Local News

Fire Destroys Two Businesses In Downtown Durham

Posted March 31, 2001

— Investigators say a fire in downtown Durham that destroyed two businesses Sunday morning was an accident.

The Fire Marshal's office says the blaze started near a heating unit on the second floor of the building.

Fire investigators were on the scene on Main Street Monday, where The Wonderland and a second-floor boxing gym were destroyed.

The gym did not have any fire insurance. The owners say they were scheduled to sign the final insurance paperwork Monday morning.

Triangle Developmental Boxing hopes to relocate its business and reopen as soon as possible.

A third business that had not even opened yet may have been ruined by smoke and water.

"The club that's burning is right next door to a business that's going to be a jazz club, and the owner has invested a lot of money in getting that club online," says business owner Carl Webb.

The fire also dealt a blow to the revitalization of downtown Durham -- a setback for a city street that was beginning to flourish.

Flames flickered along the rooftop and black smoke billowed into the sky Sunday as firefighters tried to save the building at 120 West Main Street. Several people came downtown to watch a piece of Durham history go up in flames.

"You think of what all has been in a building like that over the years; a lot of memories, a lot of different shops, a lot of different families that have been involved," says witness Charlie Rhodes.

At times, firemen nearly disappeared into thick clouds of smoke while they battled back the flames. The fire was too big to attack from the ground, so they fought it from the air.

"They were unable to make an interior attack because up in the roof was the first area that ignited. It was up in the attic and ceiling areas," says fire investigator Edward Reid. ,Julie Moos


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