Fire’s Aftermath Troubles Southwest Indiana Town

By ANNIE MCMINDES | December 19, 2012

The future of four downtown buildings is still unknown.

Even before a fire in mid-October crumbled two abandoned buildings, town officials had been seeking a way to acquire the properties on Anderson Street, tear down the structures and make way for a long-planned senior housing project.

Now they’re trying to just get the debris from the burned out buildings cleaned up.

“We’re still waiting on estimates to come in,” council President Ralph Heshelman told the Vincennes Sun-Commercial. “We will revisit the issue in January, with hopes of a decision to be made.”

“We have several options to dispose of the waste,” deputy clerk-treasurer Waynette Brewer said. “And we really need to get the other two buildings to come down now, too.”

The properties have long been a problem.

“They were all in disrepair before the fire,” Brewer said. “Now they’re all just dangerous. We want them all down. The floors are gone, the roofs are gone. They need to be torn down.”

The buildings were inspected after the fire.

“There was asbestos found in the two remaining buildings,” Brewer said. “So that needs to be treated properly before anything. They were small amounts, and we can only assume the buildings which are now just piles of debris would also have small amounts of asbestos in them.”

Cleanup has been stalled, in part, because of a dispute over the ownership of the buildings.

The town is now the legal owner of only one of the buildings, Brewer said.

The others had been sold, some recorded at the courthouse, some not, and no one would come forth as the legal owner.

“There was a lot of confusion according to the records,” Brewer said. “We’re going by the record books as of now.”

While there is some speculation, the cause of the fire is still unknown.

“We’ve never heard anything back from the fire marshal as to what had caused the fire,” Brewer said. “So we just don’t know what caused it, but they were old, and they hadn’t been kept up.

“I don’t know what the future of the area will bring,” she said. “But the area needs to be made safe, and we need to get rid of the dangers of falling debris.”

Was this article valuable?

Here are more articles you may enjoy.