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Orange County Focus

SEAL BEACH : Pier Repair Decision Sought by Tuesday

May 28, 1994|SHELBY GRAD

City officials hope by Tuesday to unveil a reconstruction plan for the Seal Beach Pier, which was damaged in a fire a week ago.

The city must decide whether to make temporary repairs to the historic wood boardwalk and reopen it for the summer tourist season or keep it closed for several weeks while permanent fixes are completed.

Plans to construct a temporary deck over the burned portion of the pier faded Friday because officials could not locate supplies needed for the job, City Manager Jerry L. Bankston said. The temporary repairs would not be covered by insurance.

The fire, which temporarily stranded more than 100 people at the end of the pier, damaged several of the boardwalk's wood cross beams and supports, many of which must be replaced.

Officials are not sure how long it will take to make permanent repairs. Lumber that was supposed to be used to fix damage from a 1992 pier blaze is stockpiled at a parking lot near the boardwalk and could be used for the project. But Bankston said more lumber is needed and that it might take weeks to get it from a mill.

Meanwhile, investigators Friday continued to search for the cause of the fire. They believe the blaze occurred when some sort of heat source brought onto the pier made contact with a plastic gas line that runs under the boardwalk from its base to Ruby's restaurant at the end of the structure. The "incendiary source" then ignited the gas line, officials suspect.

There has been speculation that the fire started when hot coals from a grill fell through cracks in the pier deck and landed on the gas line. City laws prohibit barbecues on the boardwalk.

Fire investigators and city officials said they have no solid evidence that a barbecue caused the blaze. Investigators plan to interview a couple who said they saw a grill at the pier, Bankston said. Anyone with information about the fire is urged to call a 24-hour Fire Department hot line at (714) 744-0455.

Divers on Friday searched the ocean floor below the pier looking for evidence. They found debris from the fire, but no barbecue, Bankston said.

Bankston said the city might eventually move the gas line or shelter it with some sort of protective covering.

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