Ferguson's Cafe, Milk Bottle Owners Plan To Rebuild

SPOKANE, Wash. - There are still no clear answers into what caused a devastating fire at Ferguson's Cafe and the Milk Bottle Sunday night, but there is word that both owners plan to rebuild.

The fire started around 8:45 p.m. Sunday in a walkway between the two iconic cafes. The fire melted a nearby metered natural gas line, which broke and fed the flames.

The fire spread quickly through Ferguson's Cafe and heavily damaged the attic space of The Milk Bottle. Ferguson's has been deemed a total loss, whereas The Milk Bottle still stands and will only need cosmetic fixes. Firefighters had to rip out the ceiling of the Milk Bottle during the fire in order to reach it in the attic and extinguish it.

The owner of the Milk Bottle, Kristine Ritchie, and her husband were on a trip to Canada when one of their children called them to say their building was on fire. Ritchie says she remembers feeling on Friday that she shouldn't go to Canada. Her worst fears were realized when she got that call.

?I think I'm lucky, lucky to be blessed that the fire department did such a good job,? Ritchie said.

Spokane Assistant Fire Chief Brian Schaeffer says the three-alarm fire was a tough battle, but they were able to save most of The Milk Bottle.

?As soon as I saw that intersection and heard the initial report it, your heart sunk because we all knew what we were going to and that is a mainstay for Spokane,? Ritchie said.

Schaeffer knew his crews weren't just battling a fire; they were trying to save Spokane history.

?It burnt to the natural gas meter which subsequently melted and aided in that rapid fire growth that you saw,? Schaeffer said.

By the time the fire was out, Ferguson's was destroyed and the attic in the Milk Bottle got the brunt of the fire. The cause is still unknown Monday night and fire investigators aren't ruling out anything ? from arson to even accidental. The rumor mill is circulating in the Garland Business District. Other shop owners around Garland say there's been a few arsons in recent months.

In the meantime, Ritchie is staying optimistic and is counting her blessings, including the few antiques firefighters were able to save.

?A lot of cleaning and replacing equipment and painting and rebuilding and soon we'll be open as soon as we can,? Ritchie said. ?Everybody's really behind us for rebuilding as soon as, as fast as possible, I think it'll be a more beautiful milk bottle in the long run.?