HUNTINGTON, Ind. (WANE) – A Huntington real estate business was moving shop as the city’s mayor and the fire chief updated their community on the massive fire that took place at a downtown building on Wednesday.
Mayor Brooks Fetters and Huntington Fire Department chief Tim Albertson labeled the fire at the two-story brick building at the corner of Market and Cherry Streets as extremely aggressive and complicated. It’s the largest one the city has seen in 5 years.
Friday’s press conference was held to update the community on the fire and thank everyone who helped them battle it. Fetters and Albertson reported it took about 36 hours to completely put out the fire. Collateral damage was kept to a minimum. No one was hurt, but 6 families had to move out the building.
Fetters and Albertson explained that their number one priority is to take care of the displaced families and businesses. Secondly, they’ll address the needs and concerns of the property owners.
The Huntington Fire department began a physical investigation of the building Thursday morning to determine the fire’s cause. They aren’t able to reveal what they’ve learned yet.
The officials thanked a long list of regional fire departments that jumped in to help fight the fire and organizations that provided support. They said their appreciation can’t be overstated.
“Specifically I just want to call out the City of Huntington Fire Department,” Fetters said. “They put in lots of hours and they used every bit of professional expertise that they had to keep the damage to a minimum and preserve life and protect property. I’m very, very proud of the Huntington Fire Department as well as everyone who came to help.”
The Coldwell Banker real estate office located on the first floor of the distraught building spent the morning moving out. Cold, dark, and wet are just a few words the agents are using to describe their situation.
Office manager Bob Burnsworth said he didn’t allow any of his workers near the office as the fire raged.
“[My workers] wanted to get into the office and get some of the stuff out,” he explained. “I said I don’t want anybody in there. I don’t want anybody in there personal liability-wise. I don’t want anybody in there. I don’t want anybody getting hurt in there when there’s items in this building that could get replaced.”
Burnsworth said it could be a month before they can move back in. His insurance company will be dealing with all the water and smoke damage.
“We’re just blessed that it’s not worse,” he said. “We came in here and find it’s just completely wiped out and the roof could be laying down inside of here and everything could be gone. But we got the opportunity to get stuff out of here, where the people next to us they had no opportunity. They lost homes. They lost businesses just because of the fire.”
Investigators are determining if this historic building is salvageable. Right now, it is too early to tell.