MOUNT VERNON — The investigation into the cause of the fire that destroyed the former Kresge building at 201 S. Main St. is moving forward, though few details are currently available.
According to Kim Riddell, Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and explosives, public information officer, the ATF’s National Response Team has been assembled and initial assessments are being completed. However, she said she has not been on-scene and does not want to speculate about the course of the investigation.
“They will assess the structure today,” Riddell said this morning. “There are engineers and some other people looking at it. They have not started the on-scene investigation.”
Tests are being conducted on the water in the basement to determine if any contaminants are present. Results, which could take a few days, will determine how water will be pumped from the basement.
Mary Lou Montenery, who along with her husband, John, own the building at 201 S. Main St., told the News there were no chemicals in the basement of the building.
“There were no chemicals or anything like that in the basement, contrary to rumors,” she said. “We had cleaned out a lot of things. We spent thousands of dollars on cleaning it out. I loved the building and had hoped to do a lot of renovation to it. It was a beautiful building.”
“This is a dynamic situation,” Riddell said. “They will be making choices based on what they discover through the assessment.”
According to Lynne Ricard, downtown manager, earlier plans to shut off power to the west side of South Main Street today have been canceled. Stores are expected to be open for business.
Denny Taylor, facilities manager for the Mount Vernon Nazarene University, told the News this morning the college has yet to tour the Buchwald Center to assess the damage. He said once ATF personnel clears the building, he expects officials from the Mount Vernon Fire Department to inform the college.
Smoke coming from the building was reported at approximately 6:30 Monday morning. The Mount Vernon Fire Department quickly responded and called in for mutual aid from other fire departments throughout Knox County and surrounding areas. The Division of State Fire Marshal arrived on the scene Monday to offer assistance.
The investigation is a joint effort by the MVFD, DSFM, ATF and the Mount Vernon Police Department.
Montenery said no plans are being made until until investigations are finished.