North Vernon looking to tear down and rebuild after devastating - WDRB 41 Louisville News

North Vernon looking to tear down and rebuild after devastating downtown fire

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Engineers say one building is structurally sound, but the rest of the block in North Vernon, Ind., will come down. Engineers say one building is structurally sound, but the rest of the block in North Vernon, Ind., will come down.

NORTH VERNON, Ind. (WDRB) -- Investigators say somebody knows who started a fire that destroyed a downtown block. City officials have plans to tear down what is left of the property and turn it into something new, while investigators try to figure out who set the fire.

The facades have been barely hanging on, six months after someone started a fire that left the downtown block in North Vernon a mess.

Piles of bricks, mangled metal and someone's melted laundry basket lay in the street and it makes the local fire captain angry to think about.

"It was one of the biggest fires I had fought. We spent over 24 hours there dumping water on it to finally get it out," Captain Brian Horton said.

Five firefighters were injured.

"We take a risk every time -- fellow brothers find out it's arson, it really, you don't understand why," said Horton.

The North Vernon Police and Fire Departments are investigating with the state fire Marshal's office, which is offering a $1,000 reward.

"I talk to my chief all the time, they've got some really good leads, but you need that good break, also and I'm not giving up on them yet, they may have somebody in jail before it's over with," North Vernon Mayor Harold Campbell said.

He's working on a plan to clean up the mess. It starts with the city buying the buildings.

Engineers say one building is structurally sound, but the rest of the block will come down. The mayor says he expects bulldozing to begin in about six weeks.

Campbell hopes to have it cleaned up by November. It'll be green space for awhile, with bigger plans down the road.

"We're thinking about senior housing, there's other ideas," he said. "Just be patient, I tell everybody be patient, we'll clean it up. We'll get it done."

If you have any information, contact local police, fire or the state fire marshal's office.

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