Port threatens lawsuit to recoup flooding losses

Cascade Fire Protection has not reimbursed what the Port says is owed for a fire sprinkler system failure

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WALLA WALLA — Months after a malfunctioning fire suppression system flooded CAVU Cellars’ new tasting room at the Walla Walla Regional Airport Industrial Park, the Port of Walla Walla has yet to receive a drop of reimbursement for its coverage of the repairs.

Now the Port may be taking the fight to court.

Commissioners on Thursday unanimously authorized Executive Director Jim Kuntz to file suit against Cascade Fire Protection, the Tri-Cities company that installed the sprinkler system.

“They’ll have one last chance,” Kuntz said this morning. “We’ll notify them today we’ve been authorized to file.”

The Port, which leases the space to CAVU, has spent slightly more than $200,000 to cover repairs since the Sept. 14 flood, Kuntz said.

Four letters of request for payment to Cascade have yielded no reimbursement. He said adjusters have been out to assess the damage, but no checks have been written.

After an executive session at Thursday’s Port meeting, commissioners reconvened the public portion of the meeting, where action was taken.

The flood ravaged the new location of CAVU Cellars at 175 Aeronca Ave. The building located at the gateway to the Port’s airport industrial park, had been subdivided into two spaces. CAVU Cellars had renovated 10,000 square feet for a move from the Port’s winery incubator village.

Three weeks after the opening, a head on the new fire suppression system malfunctioned 10 days after installation. The Port was still under contract with Cascade Fire at the time, officials said.

They system dumped water at 300 gallons a minute for upward of a half-hour. It doused the ceiling, drywall, insulation and wood floors, destroying months of work as harvest rolled in.

Vicki Hillhouse can be reached at vickihillhouse@wwub.com or 526-8321.

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