HIghway 99 reopens after structure fire deemed suspicious

The highway was shut down through Junction City most of Monday.

Posted: Jul. 9, 2018 7:49 PM
Updated: Jul. 10, 2018 5:54 PM

JUNCTION CITY, Ore. -- Highway 99 reopened Monday evening as investigators work to determine the cause of a structure fire in Junction City that police are calling suspicious.

Junction City Police said they have reason to believe the fire is suspicious because of evidence they found within the building.
 
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The highway was closed Monday for most of the day and reopened around 5 p.m.

Police said they found remnants of a restaurant inside the building on Highway 99 and West 7th Avenue. They said someone was working to remodel the building and eventually open a restaurant.

Police said a racial slur was written on the back of the building, but they said it's unclear when it was written. Junction City Police Chief Robert Morris said it's unclear if the slur is connected to the fire.

A Junction City resident said the building used to be an insurance office. Officials at Junction City Public Works told KEZI 9 News they could not provide information about permits for the building because it's under investigation.

County business records show the building was purchased in 2015 by Devon and Irene Huntley.

"I just talked to a gentlemen, one that had been working on it here and there," said Jeff Jennings, the owner of Magic Windshield in Junction City. "I've seen him out there and asked him when they were gonna have it up and running and he just said the owner was focusing more on other joints of his that he had running and that's why it was taking so long. That's all I know."

Elizabeth Ammos-Jackson, an employee at United Grocery in Junction City, said she's seen a man working on remodeling the building for the last two years.

"It'll be interesting to find out what authorities decide it is because it doesn't get used so I don't see why it would be an accident," Ammos-Jackson said.

Business owners said a fire like this is unusual in their part of town.

"It's pretty odd for something like this to happen in Junction City," said Jaime Corbin, manager of Napa Sunset Auto Parts in Junction City. "It's a pretty calm community most of the time so that is kind of strange."

The cause of the fire is under investigation.

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