One person unaccounted for after Waterville landmark burns

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WATERVVILLE — Sheriff’s deputies say one person is unaccounted for after a Thursday evening fire destroyed Kopey’s Garage, a former auto shop that stood for 120 year in downtown Waterville.

Douglas County Undersheriff Tyler Caille said one person known to be at the site of the fire when it broke out shortly after 7 p.m. remains missing Friday morning. Firefighters and search and rescue workers had yet to enter the building at 116 W. Locust St.

“Douglas County detectives are currently assisting the Douglas County fire marshal with the investigation of the fire and are working to locate the unaccounted subject,” Caille said in a news release.

The Kopey’s Garage building was owned by Ray and Judith Kope of Waterville, according to Douglas County tax records. Built in 1900, it served as a Ford garage back in its day. 

Douglas County Fire Districts 1 and 5 were called out at 7:07 p.m. to find the building already engulfed in flame. Neighboring fire districts from Chelan County were calledfor aid as the fire went second alarm.

The structure stood on the corner of Highway 2, behind Pioneer Park and across from the historic Waterville Hotel. Caille said the ruins of the building remain unsafe and smoldering today, and Highway 2 traffic would be detoured while fire suppression and search take place.

The cause of the fire is not yet known.