Cause of Kirksville Arts Center inferno still unknown

KTVO - Fire crews remained on scene Saturday dousing hot spots

It was a much different scene Saturday afternoon in downtown Kirksville as the blanket of thick smoke has finally lifted.

Reality is now setting in that a historic Heartland building has been destroyed.

The building that housed the Kirksville Arts Center located at 117 South Franklin Street was built 107 years ago.

Saturday, Kirksville fire crews remained on scene dousing hot spots.

The fire, which was reported at 8:15 p.m. Friday, was finally controlled just before 2 a.m. on Saturday.

A firefighter at the scene told KTVO the blaze is believed to have started in the back of the building.

A state fire investigator is expected to be in Kirksville on Monday or Tuesday to try to determine what caused the blaze.

The fireman adds that the building is still very hot and full of burning embers.

As a result, an investigation cannot begin until the building cools.

He said battling the blaze came with a set of challenges due to the artwork displayed in the upper-floor windows.

The windows were boarded up with the artwork covering them, which made it nearly impossible to break through to spray the smoke and flames.

In the back-half of the building, the second and third floors have completely collapsed.

Ameren Missouri crews were also on scene for much of the night.

Electricity was cut off from the Arts Center as well as to the adjacent buildings.

Despite this tragedy, many are now looking for a silver-lining.

One of the staple pieces of the Arts Center are the tiles located on the front of the building.

Those tiles were painted by many members of the Kirksville community in order to create a decorative mural.

While many feared that the tiles that meant so much to so many would be destroyed, they are still in tact.

KTVO learned on scene that the tiles were put onto the building in panels.

They will be able to be removed as the building continues to cool.

Due to the fire, sections of McPherson and Franklin Streets surrounding the area will be closed until further notice.

Pedestrians are encouraged to use caution when in the area.

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