/ Modified feb 19, 2024 6:41 p.m.

Bisbee Main Street fire's cause still unknown

The mayor set to give an update at City Council meeting Tuesday

Bisbee Fire Flames Firefighters work to contain a blaze in Old Bisbee
Ken Budge, Bisbee Mayor

The cause is still unknown for the fire that burned two businesses off of Main Street in Bisbee last Wednesday evening.

Bisbee Mayor Ken Budge said the call for the fire came in at 9:12 p.m. last Wednesday night, and he was on the scene by 9:30 p.m.

“By then, it was already roaring out the windows, our first engine was on scene and tried to do a fast attack to it, but it was just too many flames,” said Budge.

He said that’s when the second fire truck arrived. Bisbee Fire Chief Jim Richardson said crews from Douglas Fire Department, Tombstone Fire Department, Naco Fire Department and Sunnyside Fire Department were also on scene along with Bisbee Fire Department fighting the flames.

“We did have heavy smoke and flames coming out from the back side of the building," said Richardson. "There was a little issue with one of the hydrants. We were able to go get a valve turned on, and we got water back and then the fire flared back up … So, we had it kinda under control and then we lost a little bit of water … but we lost the ground that we gained … I believe that we were there from 9 o’clock Valentine's night till the following night at 10 o’clock."

At the moment, the mayor says there's no leads on the fire’s cause, as the brick walls of the buildings that house Bisbee Oil & Vinegar and Many Fine Things Gallery are unstable from the damage.

"The problem is these brick walls that are still standing are so unstable that we can’t dare put anyone underneath them until either they’re stabilized or — that’s why we’re having a structural engineer coming to tell us what we can do," Budge said. "Then, they can get in there and slowly pull things apart and figure out the burn patterns and other things they use to figure out — least — close to where the origin is, and also, possibly the cause.”

The owners of Many Fine Things Gallery and Bisbee Oil & Vinegar did not immediately respond to requests for comment, but Bisbee Oil & Vinegar posted on their Facebook page that "We regret to inform that our store will be temporarily closed and we do not know when are we going to be able to reopen, thank you very much to everyone for your thoughts and support, in the meantime we will try to do the Bisbee Farmers Market and online sales."

Mayor Budge plans to provide updates in the city council meeting Tuesday. He said that Main Street remains closed to vehicle traffic, and drivers are being re-routed on detours.

"To go up, you would go up through what's called Subway Street," Budge said. "But coming back down, let's say from the tunnel and upper part of Main Street, you have to turn by what we call the Iron Man, or at St. Pat's Church, and go up what they call Clawson. It takes you up and over on the other side, and then, you can drop back down into Main Street."

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