The historic former Terra Cotta Ballroom building was lost to fire in Pisek, N.D., early Monday morning.
About 30 volunteer firefighters from Pisek and Park River, N.D., battled the blaze from about 6 a.m. through the afternoon, said Jerry Slinger, owner of the building.
Including the building and the items he had stored there, Slinger estimates a financial loss of about $250,000 to $500,000.
Although the cause of the fire is unknown, Slinger finds the fire suspicious, possibly not of natural causes, he said. When he left the scene at 1 p.m., firefighters and a fire marshal were there, and he said he shared his concerns with the fire marshal.
The fire marshal told Slinger the incident is still under investigation, he said.
Firefighters and Walsh County Sheriff’s Office representatives were unable to be reached for comment.
Slinger, who lives in Pisek and owns Interstate Towing in Grand Forks, purchased the former Terra Cotta Ballroom from the city of Pisek about six or seven years ago, he said.
At that time, the building was in disrepair because the city could not afford to care for it, he said. In recent years, Slinger had been working to rehabilitate the building.
Years ago, when the building was active as the Terra Cotta Ballroom, it was used for weddings, meetings, school productions and other events, Slinger said. He did not live in Pisek at that time, but that is what residents have told him, he said.
“A lot of people from the region have fond memories of it,” he said.
Although the building is a total loss, Slinger thanks the firefighters for their efforts.
“In the end they didn’t save it, but they were great,” he said.
He was also grateful to a local grocery store that opened when it was supposed to be closed for Memorial Day to provide food for the firefighters, he said.