FLORENCE, Colo. — A historic building in the heart of downtown Florence has taken heavy damage after a fire took nearly 12 hours to extinguish Thursday morning.
The building at the corner of W. Main Street and N. Sante Fe Avenue was built by Newton Large in 1901 and was considered the finest structure on the business street. Over the years, the building had many different uses such as a bank, dentist and doctor’s office, auto part store, and thrift store.
“I’m sorry to see it but it’s burned,” James Robinson said.
“It’s part of history that is unfortunately gone,” Alexis Thacker said.
Thacker saw the flames while she was walking her dog and immediately called 9-1-1. She’s lived in Florence most of her life and has never seen anything like it before.
“When I first saw it, it was on the second floor. By 2 o’clock in the morning, it was the entire roof,” Thacker explained.
Penrose, Rockvale, and Florence volunteer fire departments were called to the fire around 11:45 p.m. on Wednesday night, and the fire wasn’t put out until 11 a.m. on Thursday. Florence Fire Protection’s district Fire Chief Bill Ritter said he is proud of the volunteer firefighters who worked hard to put out the flames throughout the night.
“We have volunteers who are dedicated to the community and it shows,” Chief Ritter said. “It’s all them, they go, and I’m proud to work with them.”
The second floor of the building was undergoing renovations and was just days away from starting to show the lofts to potential clients.
“It’s been a while since we’ve had this one this big,” Cheif Ritter added. “Main Street fires are the fires we are afraid of, because the buildings are so old, and there are so many hidden chases in there for the fire to travel through, which is what happened with this one and they take a long time to put out and fortunately, we kept it to the building involved.”
He doesn’t know if the owners of the building will rebuild since there is so much damage.
“Being a historical building, they have to build it to the historical specifications,” Chief Ritter explained. “I think they said they put a million dollars into the renovations for that building, and they are afraid that it will cost too much to get the stuff to rebuild it.”
However, it is a piece of history the town hopes can be restored from the ashes.
“This is such an unfortunate event,” Thacker added.
The cause of this fire and the extent of damages are unclear as yet. No one was injured in the fire.