Murray Downtown Disasters: How the City’s Handling Collapsing, Burned Buildings

Jul 23, 2014

Murray Mayor Bill Wells says the city was in talks with the Kentucky League of Cities for clarification on its legal involvement in keeping downtown buildings safe and maintained before this morning’s fire broke out.

Murray officials learned late last week that the Kentucky League of Cities will come to town Sept. 24 for an informational meeting about cities’ legal obligations for downtown areas and how to work alongside property owners. More details on that meeting, which will be open for city officials and leaders throughout western Kentucky, is forthcoming.

Wells says the discussion with the league began because of concerns after the building and partial roof collapses that have happened within the past six months.

“Anytime that you have a building that has structural damage, whether it’s age or fire or whatever it may be it’s a concern,” he said. “But more than just being a concern it’s gotta make sure the citizens and the owners of those buildings are in a safe situation. And so far, I guess I should knock on wood, that’s been the case.”

Murray Main Street Director Deana Wright says today’s incident shouldn’t cause concern over the overall state of downtown and adds that people will continue to consider it as the place where Murray began. She says fires have happened before in the past, including one in the 1990s where a new bakery is now thriving.

In regards to how downtown buildings are repaired, Wright says ultimately those decisions are not the city’s to make, although they do ensure safety in the case of fires or collapses.

“It’s the private individual’s responsibility to take care of their building just like their house,” she said. “If you own a house out in the county, the judge, or if you own a house in the city, the mayor is not going to tell you how to take care of your house. And that is true downtown as well.”

While this has been a tough year, Wright says the past three structural issues are something businesses downtown will likely move past.

Timeline for downtown incidents

All of the incidents had no injuries and happened at times when no one was in the structures.

The first incident downtown happened Saturday, Feb. 22, when a building that included apartments and law and insurance offices collapsed around 10:30 p.m. That area has since been cleared.

Then a partial collapse of the roof on the former Yours, Mine and Ours building kept some downtown businesses from operating March 29 around 10 a.m. Wells says those repairs are in progress.

This morning’s fire began around 2 a.m. and damaged Wilson’s Florist, Profiles salon and Thurman Campbell CPA. Firefighters worked on the site as the wind rekindled some flames throughout the day.