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Cause of fire that destroyed Myton landmark 'undetermined,' investigators say

Published: Monday, July 21 2014 5:50 p.m. MDT

Myton firefighters work to douse hotspots Monday, July 21, 2014, after a fire at Ross Brothers Feed & Seed. The fast-moving fire on Sunday, July 20, 2014, destroyed the building, which had been a landmark in Myton for at least 70 years, according to residents.

Geoff Liesik, Deseret News

MYTON, Duchesne County — Investigators were unable to determine Monday what caused a fire that gutted Ross Brothers Feed & Seed, an iconic building that had stood on the corner of Center and Main streets for at least 70 years.

"We'll do some follow-up interviews — follow-up on some other people that may have been in the area. If we can do that, we may be able to come up with some more information, but at this point the cause is going to be undetermined," deputy state fire marshal Troy Mills said Monday after combing through an area of the feed store where a witness said the fire may have begun.

One possible cause investigators have ruled out: a lightning strike.

A thunderstorm packing high winds and lightning moved through Myton shortly before the fire started Sunday. The Uintah Basin Interagency Fire Center, however, recorded "no positive lightning strikes" in Myton, according to Duchesne County Fire and Emergency Management Director Mike Lefler.

The first reports of smoke coming from Ross Brothers Seed & Feed, 35 N. Center, came in about 4:15 p.m., according to witnesses. The fire spread quickly, fueled by highly flammable grain dust that had built up in the silos and adjoining store.

The fire burned so hot it "destroyed everything," Mills said.

"You can see from the structure that all of your burn patterns appear to be the same, and so it's really tough," he said. "Without that witness statement, it would be really tough to figure out an area of where the fire started."

Firefighters were able to save a warehouse where Troy Ross stored some of his seed and fertilizer. On Monday, he was back at work, loading a massive container of liquid fertilizer from the warehouse into the back of a customer's pickup truck and chatting with others who stopped by to look at the damage.

"I really haven't thought that much about it," Ross said when asked if he plans to rebuild. "I would love to do that."

Ross' father and uncles bought the feed store from the original owners in 1971. Ross later bought the store from his father. The age and condition of the building made it uninsurable, Ross said, but he's had plenty of people offer help since the fire.

"It's been overwhelming," he said. "I've had over a hundred phone calls. It's been great."

Investigators will actively work the case for the next several days and then pursue it further as additional information comes in, Mills said. As long as the fire is classified as "undetermined," he said, the case will remain open.

Email: gliesik@deseretnews.com

Twitter: GeoffLiesik

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