STEUBENVILLE - The Creegan Co. building on Washington Street will be knocked down this week, but the cleanup of the fire-damaged structure will take several weeks to complete.
Mayor and Acting City Manager Domenick Mucci announced Tuesday night he was issuing an emergency demolition order, "to knock the walls down so residents of the nearby Washington Square apartment building can return to their homes."
Mucci also cited the need to re-open Washington Street between Fifth and Seventh streets that has been closed since late last Wednesday when an overnight fire ravaged the building.
"From all of the information gathered by the building inspector and the fire inspector, it quickly became obvious last week it was not safe for the Washington Square Apartment residents to return to their homes. It became obvious the day after the fire the structure had to be removed," Mucci explained.
"Our main concern is to move the residents back into their apartments. I will be meeting Wednesday with Urban Projects Director Chris Petrossi and the building department officials to review and award a bid for a contractor to knock the exterior walls into the pit of the structure. This will not be a cleanup, but it will allow the residents back into their building," Mucci said.
He estimated the basic demolition of the building will take two to three days to complete.
Washington Square Apartment building residents were evacuated last week when city firefighters became concerned the fire had damaged the Creegan building exterior walls.
Assistant Fire Chief Mike Taylor said at the time the Creegan building was no longer stable and ordered the evacuation and a portion of Washington Street closed to all traffic.
Several residents were provided temporary housing at Froehlich's Classic Corner Restaurant and then at the Urban Mission Ministries-operated Joshua House.
The American Red Cross Jefferson County Chapter provided assistance to the residents.
Red Cross volunteer Paul Brandt said Tuesday afternoon the residents have found temporary shelter with family members, friends or on their own while they wait to return to their homes.
Mucci said the city fire department also is hampered by the closing of Washington Street.
"If a train is moving through the city on the downtown railroad tracks it makes it harder for the fire department to reach the hilltop neighborhoods or the West End. Yes, the fire trucks can go to the south end or the north end but that will add several minutes to the response time," said Mucci.
"This is an older building with asbestos, so there is a procedure to be followed. The material from the building must be taken to a landfill in Minerva. We must secure an asbestos removal company to probably work with a general contractor. The city has been in touch with the insurance company representing the Creegan family and we have taken it upon ourselves to seek quotes to have the walls knocked down. But the cleanup of the structure will be done by a contractor trained to handle asbestos contaminated material," Mucci stated.
Mary Elaine Creegan Feist thanked the city "for what you have done for our family."
"What the firefighters, police officers and other agencies did that night at the fire was amazing. Those guys kept going back up those ladders to do their jobs in spite of the extreme cold and the water that was spraying everywhere," Feist told City Council members Tuesday night.