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Marie Callender's ready for demolition

I'm wondering why the burned-down Marie Callender's restaurant remains an eyesore so long after being destroyed by a devastating fire. Shouldn't the property be declared a hazard and cleared?

— Tim M., Ashland

It does look a sight, Tim. When you're driving down Biddle Road, you almost feel like you're in a war-torn country.

Fire officials say an electrical component failure was the cause of a blaze that tore through the Marie Callender's Restaurant & Bakery Dec. 14 and reduced the building to blackened timbers.

The blaze began in the attic above an office area, officials said.

Chris Reising, director of Medford's Building Department, said Marie Callender's hired a private company to conduct an investigation of the fire, and the city was waiting for the investigation to be concluded.

As of last week, the investigation was finished, Reising said.

A fence has been erected around the building to keep people from wandering around.

However, the city is now at the point of declaring the building a nuisance and will require the owners to tear it down.

"It's about time for us to send a notice," Reising said.

The owners will have 14 days from receipt of the letter to demolish the structure.

The fire caused about $2 million in damage to the building and contents.

Fire officials said the building, constructed in 1984, was not protected with an automatic sprinkler system. Marie Callender's opened in 1993. The building housed the Wild Plum restaurant in the years before.

The owners have previously said they plan to rebuild the restaurant.

Send questions to "Since You Asked," Mail Tribune Newsroom, P.O. Box 1108, Medford, OR 97501; by fax to 541-776-4376; or by email to youasked@mailtribune.com. We're sorry, but the volume of questions received prevents us from answering all of them.