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June 2012
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3 buildings wrecked by blaze

by Becca Schimmelrschimmel@murraystate.edu

MURRAY - Court Square was soggy and smelling the burn of more bad luck Wednesday.

A building on the square collapsed in February, and now a major fire has destroyed three buildings and caused smoke and water damage to others.

"We had a building collapse several months ago," said Matt Hale, owner and managing partner at Thurman Campbell, an accounting firm whose offices were lost in the fire. "So the scenario had already gone through my head at one point: What if it was my building?"

The Murray Fire Department received a call about 2 a.m. reporting a building on fire.

Traffic was closed to the square, and the Calloway County Courthouse closed for the day. It is expected to reopen today with regular hours.

It is unclear what caused the fire, and the extent of the damage has yet to be determined. An investigation is continuing, according to Fire Chief Eric Pologruto.

Fire marshals will not enter any of these buildings until they are deemed safe, said Assistant Chief Matthew Tinsley. 

"They're not going into a building that could collapse," he said.

 Tinsley said when fire crews arrived they found flames coming out of the windows of Wilson's Florist, and the roof had weakened enough to where flames were showing through. They believe that's where the fire originated.

Buildings destroyed were Wilson's Florist, Profiles salon and spa, and the Thurman Campbell CPA offices.

"We deployed a hose line and started an interior attack, extinguishing a large amount of fire," Pologruto said. "After a partial collapse of an interior wall the decision was made to pull our guys out and go with a defensive attack."

Pologruto said some firefighters would remain on the scene throughout the night to watch for hot spots or a rekindling of the fire.

"I think there is a high chance of rekindle at this point, so much so that we want to make sure that we have personnel here to keep an eye on it," Pologruto said.

A few firefighters went into Profiles to retrieve some of the owner's items. Monica Spiceland, owner of the business, was more concerned with their safety than the items in her shop.

"They all have families, too, and I don't want them to get hurt," Spiceland said.

Her business had been in the same location for what would have been nine years in October. She received a call at 3:47 a.m. and came out to see the damage for herself. 

"I have seven people who work for me, so I'm thinking what do I do for them. I have to get them working as soon as possible," she said.

Roy Riley, owner of Peel and Holland insurance company, was waiting outside the police line with the other local business owners to get into his building to assess the damage Wednesday afternoon.

"I was just hoping that the damage was as minimal as possible," Riley said. "The fire department did a wonderful job. I got here and saw what was involved and thought there was no way they could save this part of the Court Square, and they did."

Hale said he expects his CPA firm will have to relocate but thinks the fire will not harm the business as much as it could have. 

"We made a concerted effort several years ago to back things up off site, and recently we've been putting everything on the cloud," Hale said. "So we can actually get most of our information by plugging in a laptop somewhere. We should be in good shape."

The building collapse last February was at 314 Main St. No one was injured, but surrounding business sustained some damage and closed for a few days.

 Contact Becca Schimmel, a Paducah Sun staff writer at 270-575-8652.

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