Investigators return to find cause of De Pere fire

Fire destroyed a building at 100 S. Broadway in De Pere on April 24, 2019 (WBAY photos)
Fire destroyed a building at 100 S. Broadway in De Pere on April 24, 2019 (WBAY photos)(WBAY)
Published: May. 30, 2019 at 6:01 PM CDT
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Crews are in De Pere to investigate the cause of the downtown fire that happened more than a month ago.

That fire leveled a historic building in the heart of downtown, left 20 people without a home, and shut down several businesses and a charity group.

The century-old building's age presented firefighters with a challenge, and the cause of the fire was left undetermined.

The fire department was back at the site Thursday, but Fire Chief Alan Matzke says the department is only monitoring the investigation.

Each business and the building owner's insurance company have investigators that are working together to come up with an official cause for the fire.

"Then it starts the settlement process between the insurance companies in terms of who's going to pay for the cleanup, who's going to pay for the damage and the loss. So that's why they're going to really take their time and go through this in great detail," Chief Matzke said.

Investigators used a large backhoe to clear more rubble and make it safe to get closer to the building's basement.

"The site won't be cleaned up today. At this point the whole idea is to try to really get that cause and origin," Chief Matzke said.

This is projected to be a two-day process but investigators say they'll be out there for as long as it takes.

"There's a lot riding on it. Unfortunately we lost some great businesses in this building, some people lost their homes in this building, and we ultimately lost a beautiful building downtown," Matzke said.

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