Restoration work continues at Clarion building

The back door to the Clarion County Probation Office and District Judge Duane Quinn’s office is now the front door.

A fire damaged the building at 22 North 6th St. on Sept. 5, forcing the temporary evacuation. The probation department was relocated to the courthouse, and Quinn’s staff is sharing office space with District Judge Timothy Schill in Shippenville.

Clarion County Commissioner Ted Tharan said Tuesday the probation office was re-opened on North 6th Avenue, and Quinn’s office would be open again in about two weeks.

But there are some changes.

The 6th Avenue entrance remains closed while the restoration of the building continues. Entry to the building will be in the rear.

The entry is for both offices. Inside there will be two buzzers, one for each office, in a joint waiting room.

Staff members will allow entry inside the respective offices.

Tharan said that on court days a constable might be present in the district judge’s office.

The commissioners couldn’t give a timeline on the repair of the building. Fire damage was confined to the entrance, but there was extensive smoke infiltration throughout the building.

Tharan said all the insulation inside the building had to be removed due to the smell.

Tharan also said one of the problems is the replacement of the entry doors and supporting framework. He said it has to be custom made for the building and may take some time.

The commissioners were unable to provide an estimate of the total extent of the loss.

The cause of the fire is believed to have been a discarded cigarette in a plastic ashtray that was on the outside of the building.

The county has an ordinance that prohibits an ashtray within 40 feet of a county building. Tharan said that policy would probably be strenuously enforced in the future.

The county hasn’t received the official cause of the fire from the state police fire marshal.