Ben Boswell, master of the South Fork Grange, confirmed last week that the Grange hall which burned in the Feb. 8 fire in downtown Lostine was not covered by fire insurance.

At the time the Grange executive board met in a special session in the wake of the fire to discuss the future, the exact insurance coverage was uncertain because paperwork was destroyed in the fire.

“We’ve been able to track down some records and correspondence so now we know the South Fork Grange did not have fire insurance,” Boswell said.

He said South Fork had been covered by the National Grange, which canceled its program in 2010. The Lostine organization found coverage with another company, but the premiums for both fire and liability “became more than we could manage” and so the Grange kept liability and dropped fire coverage.

“It’s just one of the choices small fraternal organizations have to make nowadays,” Boswell said.

The Grange will hold its next business meeting at 7:30 p.m. Friday, March 7, at the Lostine Community Center, where members will discuss the future. Boswell said the Grange does have a “sizable amount” in a trust fund, and still owns its property – one-and-a-half tax lots, he believes – in downtown Lostine.

Cleanup of the fire site is the next step for the Grange, Boswell said.

Wallowa County emergency manager Paul Karvoski worked with the State Fire Marshal’s Office in investigating the Lostine fire, which destroyed the Norton Welding shop and the Grange hall.

Karvoski said this week there is not yet a written report and the official cause is still undetermined, but “we are leaning towards a space heater under the desk in the office of Norton’s shop.” He said what is undetermined is whether the cause was an electrical short or the heater being too close to combustibles.

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