The fire at the Forget-Me-Not Thrift Shop last week was likely sparked by candles, investigators say.
Jackson Hole Fire/EMS announced the findings Tuesday, five days after the blaze caused smoke damage throughout the building on Thursday. After inspecting the area and interviewing witnesses, Battalion Chief Brian Coe determined it was an accident.
In a press release about the investigation, Fire Marshal Kathy Clay urged people not to leave lit candles unattended, and recommended battery-operated candles in homes and businesses.
Employees extinguished the flames with buckets of water before fire crews arrived, containing the fire damage to the bathroom in which it began. But smoke still pervaded the building, despite firefighters’ efforts to ventilate it with fans.
Thrift shop owners reopened quickly on Friday and held a fire sale to get rid of the damaged goods. But Millie Parks, who co-founded Forget-Me-Not in 2004, said shoppers have been scarce since the fire, perhaps because they assume the store remains closed.
Coe’s conclusion ties the bow on investigations of two fires from last week, both of which occurred within 24 hours of each other. Clay is confident the proximity of the two is a coincidence and said she sees no evidence of arson.
“There is no connection amongst them,” she said, “which is always good.”
The other, which damaged a kitchen at Dornan’s in Moose on Wednesday evening, came from a barbecue smoker being used for a private Nat Geo Wild event that was part of the Jackson Wild Summit.
When kitchen staff opened the smoker, Clay said, flames spread into the hood and grew, fueled by grease. A maintenance worker mostly suppressed the fire with an extinguisher before crews from Jackson Hole Fire/EMS and Grand Teton National Park arrived just after 6 p.m.
“I think this is a good fire extinguisher lesson about how important of a role they can play for people fighting an initial fire,” Clay said. “They can be very effective in either controlling or stopping a fire.”