HARRIMAN (WATE) – Almost three weeks have passed since a fire that left a smoking ruin in the center of Harriman. Residents watched the fire grow and grow at the Miller-Brewer building, which was once a department store. Adding to the mystery, there was no power and the building had been vacant for years.
Mayor Chris Mason says the clean up process is moving fast, but there are several problems still looming.
“Right now, it’s the inconvenience of the traffic being shut down. We’ve only got two lanes open out of four lanes,” said Mason. “We still have one of the side streets blocked off, and that’s because of what they call the fall zone because the two adjacent buildings are going to have to be torn down because their structure integrity has been compromised.”
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Many now wonder what is next for the Miller-Brewer building. Mason says he’s in communication with owner’s attorney to figure the next steps.
“Last April, these properties did go up for back tax sale and they reverted over to the county, so the county shows ownership right now. However, I’m also told the county doesn’t have full ownership until April, so we’re looking into that as well,” said Mason.
Harriman Fire Chief Brad Goss says they used 2 to 3 million gallons of water to put out the fire and they’ve lost thousands of dollars worth of equipment, including fire hoses.
“We’re still having some issues with leaks and some pumps leaking, and we had a lot freezing going on Thursday night into that Friday morning,” said Goss.
Goss says they’ve spent several days trying figure out what might have caused the fire.
“When you have that massive size of fire, it’s hard in the end to determine the exact cause of it,” said Goss.
WATE 6 On Your Side reached out to the owner of the building. We weren’t able to speak with him but, his caregiver who says the owner has suffered some medical issues and wasn’t able to speak with us. Mayor Mason expects to meet with the owner’s attorney in the next few days. The cause of the fire is still undetermined.