Fire at Lewiston marijuana business checked for possible code violations, official says

LEWISTON — The inspection of a medical marijuana dispensary in the wake of a Wednesday fire turned up possible code violations that could affect the operation of the business, a city official said.

“As a result of the fire,” Planning and Code Enforcement Director David Hediger said Wednesday, “we did have one of the code enforcement officers go down there, along with the electrical inspector, and it does appear that there have been both building improvements and electrical improvements made without the required permits.”

He said the city hadn’t determined to what extent those improvements at the building on Strawberry Avenue had been made without proper authorization.

Hediger said he expects the owner will be cited for the violations and any unapproved changes to the structure and electrical system would need to be altered to conform with city codes.

“What we’ll likely end up doing is condemning all or a portion of the building due to the damage from the fire, as well as a number of the electrical improvements that have been made and their building improvements that have been made without permits,” he said. They’ll need to bring those sections of the building up to code in order to be reoccupy those spaces.”

A retail space at the front of the building may be able to continue operation, he said.

“A lot of that’s going to depend upon them as far as separating (electrical) circuitry and making sure that section of the building is safe and able to be occupied while the remaining (two-thirds) of the building (that houses a growing area) is improved,” Hediger said.

He said he didn’t know whether those nonpermitted improvements had contributed to Wednesday’s fire.

Fire Inspector Ryan Coleman said Thursday that the fire was electrical in nature and started in the back of the building.

Firefighters who responded to the Wednesday morning fire cut a hole in the roof in an effort to bring the fire under control.

Electrical service to the building had been shut off most of the day, but had been restored by the end of the day, according to a business manager onsite.

She said the fire hadn’t damaged any retail inventory or product in grow rooms in the building. No injuries were reported.

Firefighters returned to that address Thursday for a report of carbon monoxide in the building.

Capt. Rick Cailler said Thursday that the business had been using generators to power their equipment in a part of the building where there was no electrical service.

Although the generators were located outside the building, a back door had been left open, allowing exhaust fumes to get inside, he said.

An employee had symptoms from breathing the (low level of) carbon monoxide fumes, he said.

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