SHERIDAN — An investigator with the Wyoming State Fire Marshal’s Office has determined the fire at the Chuckwagon gas station and convenience store early Thursday morning in Story was likely electrical. Investigator Richard Embry said the decision must be reviewed and finalized by an electrical engineer.
Embry said the blaze was called in by a Sheridan man who was driving home at approximately 2:40 a.m. and saw the fire from the top of a hill. When he realized which building it was, he notified emergency responders.
When firefighters arrived at the scene only a few minutes later, the building was already engulfed in flames. They were able to put the fire out, but the building was a total loss.
Firefighters from the Story Volunteer Fire Department stayed at the scene to ensure it did not reignite. The investigation process began around 7 a.m.
“I was ready to put the cause of the fire as undetermined because of the destruction,” Embry said, adding the most time-consuming task of the investigation was removing the metal roof out of the building’s footprint to allow access to the evidence beneath.
However, when he gained access to the scene, Embry noticed what he called a distinctive “V-pattern” on one of the walls that led him to make his determination.
“I just stumbled upon it,” he said.
Embry said he believes the fire started near the electrical infrastructure of the store’s walk-in freezer on the west wall. From there, he said the flames likely climbed into the attic of the building.
“There’s plenty of air to breathe there,” he said, explaining the fire then covered much more space within the building and ultimately claimed it in entirety.
Embry said the investigation took approximately four hours, not including the roof removal efforts.