Bisbee deals with aftermath of downtown fire

People in the Southern Arizona town of Bisbee are navigating a new normal, days after a fire destroyed two buildings, and badly damaged two other buildings.

The fire broke out just before 10 p.m. on Feb. 14 and damaged two stores – Bisbee Oil & Vinegar and the Many Fine Things Gallery.

Bricks from the buildings reportedly fell onto the street during the fire. No one was hurt.

Bisbee's downtown area is made up of mostly brick buildings that date back about 100 years. The town's popular Main Street is usually filled with people on a holiday weekend, but for now, parts of that roadway are closed off as a result of the fire.

"That's what gives our Main Street a lot of charm, and so, it's tough when we have to, you know, put part of it away just for safety's sake," said Bisbee Mayor Ken Budge.

Budge was a firefighter himself. He says it hits different when it’s your town.

"This is more like losing part of your family," said Budge.

Firefighters worked through the night to keep the fire contained while preserving surrounding buildings: buildlings like Café Roka, owned by Rod Kass and his wife. They have lived in the community for decades.

"You know, we're all, on some level, just a big extended family," said Kass.

That extended family stepped up for one another Thursday morning: the Kass’s opened their doors without hesitation.

"I just went out and said ‘hey! have you guys had any access to any food?’ and they hadn’t," said Kass. "It just felt like a natural thing to do, so we were happy we could help."

The cause of the fire is still unknown, and is being investigated by state and local agencies.

"We don't believe it's any kind of an arson," said Mayor Budge. "It was not intentional."

As a community, they strive to get back to where they once were.

"We want to be able to try to keep our Main Street eclectic like it is, and with its great architecture," said Mayor Budge.

However, people in town know it will never truly be the same.

"Buildings are very important to us, and it's a great loss,"  said Mayor Budge. "They are private buildings, and so we can’t say ‘you have to do this.’"

For now, they will take it one day at a time.

"We're just going to start plotting every day to do one more thing that we can do,"  said Mayor Budge.

The city has ordered tall barricades with fencing that will arrive in the coming days, so they can open more of the roadway.

Map of Bisbee