ATHENS, Tenn. (WATE) – McMinn County dispatch confirmed early Saturday morning that several buildings were on fire in downtown Athens.
City of Athens Manager, Seth Sumner, said the Chamber of Commerce was hit hard with heavy smoke and water damage.
“The chamber of commerce has extensive smoke damage and wad water damage,” said Sumner. “Behind the building where the fire began was Johnson’s home furnishings and our fire fighters were able to get inside Johnson’s and prevent the fire from spreading into that building.”
Sumner said the primary building where the fire started is a historic location. A local lawyer was in the process of restoring it, and planned to have it open within two weeks. That building was destroyed.
“They’re telling me now that the walls are buckling, the wood floors may swell and thus the question or not if we will have to tear the building down is still open, said Jim Logan of Logan Thompson, P.C.”
Fire crews from surrounding counties were needed to help contain the blaze. They were able to prevent the fire from spreading to Johnson’s Home Furnishings.
“We’ll build it back similar to what it was,” said Logan. “You cannot replace the press metal, the kind of wood floors that were used. It’s just an astonishing building with a great history.”
No one was hurt in this incident, and the cause remains under investigation.
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