More than a month after the Valentines Day fire in downtown Bisbee, the middle of main street remains shut down.

The city now says the badly burned historic buildings cannot be preserved, and instead will be reconstructed.


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Fire Chief Jim Richardson, who also grew up in Bisbee, says nothing like this has happened in his 22-year firefighting career. He calls the fire devastating for the community.

The initial plan was to support the burned buildings walls, but after weeks of assessing fire damage and asbestos, architects and brick masons now believe they arent strong enough.

Crews are already preparing to take down the outside walls on the upper floors starting Friday.

Richardson says while the first floor businesses saw little-to-no fire damage, there was significant water damage and they wont be able to reopen until the upper floors are rebuilt.

Richardson says the walls will be torn down probably to the bottom of the [second floor] windows, roughly, in order to take away the danger of the bricks falling. The walls falling.

Theres really not a lot of structural support up there, said Richardson.

The buildings have been so unstable and unsafe, firefighters


havent been able to go inside to investigate the cause of the fire. And the street below has been closed to cars and pedestrians.

Next door, the Killer Bee Guy and Panterra Gallery only recently got the all-clear: Their building is structurally sound.

We were able to open a few days ago. Thank goodness, said Killer Bee Guy Reed Booth. We actually had a table set up on the street with honey It just wasnt gonna cut it. It really wasnt. And so when we found out that we could open the door, turn the lights on and get back to selling honey, huge relief.

Other business owners on this block tell KGUN theyre ready for the rebuild, even if it means losing a piece of the citys history.

We cant keep the street closed any longer. I have businesses that are closed, said Bisbee mayor Ken Budge.

As the walls come down this week, all of the bricks will be saved.

At some point, our hope is that then they will build a structural wall and then they can use those bricks as a fascia to put things back like they were, said Budge, who thanked the community for their support and for being patient.

The hope is that in about a week, after the initial tear-down, one lane of Main Street can reopen.