Denison is in recovery mode following a fire that devastated several buildings along the 300 block of West Main Street Wednesday. As of Thursday there were two buildings reported to be destroyed as a result of the fire, and the total damage had yet to be assessed.

City officials held a press conference Thursday morning to provide updates to the public on the status of the fire investigation.

Denison City Manager Jud Rex, Mayor Janet Gott, Denison Main Street Director Donna Dow and Denison Fire Rescue Chief Gregg Loyd each spoke at the event.

Gott and others received the notice of the fire while in San Antonio attending the Texas Municipal Leagues Annual conference. She said while there, city officials learned the city was up for an award.

“The moment the award was announced we received a text alert that 317 and 319 West Main were on fire,” Gott said. “The worst possible nightmare for a city with a historic downtown had just become a devastating reality. At approximately 10 a.m., Denison Fire Rescue responded to a fire at 317 West Main that spread and ultimately caused unbelievable devastation for our city. As of this moment, we don't know how many buildings had been destroyed or how many businesses had been impacted, but in the bright light of this day, we will begin the process of knowing. We will find out exactly what we have left.

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She said three families lost their homes and the community immediately rallied around those affected by the disaster.

“Main Street is the heart of Denison and today our heart is broken,” Gott said.

Gott said the city was fortunate nobody was hurt during the incident, and Denison is a resilient city that is going to recover.

“For us, it is clean up and recovery time,” Rex said. “We've already mobilized hauling off debris and doing selective demolition work. What we need now is clearance from structural engineers and insurance companies to help coordinate. It's all private property. The city wants to help, but we have to work with those involved that have an interest in the properties. We have equipment on site ready to go. It's going to take time. Anything we start today is going to take a week or so to get things cleared up so we can start rebuilding.”

When Rex heard the call, the first thing he thought was how he needed to be in the loop.

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“I like seeing what is happening,” Rex said. “We are blessed to have great people on the ground. We made it back as quick as we could.”

Rex said the city was working to get the 300 block of Main Street opened to traffic by the end of the day.

He also said it was still not safe for firefighters to investigate the structures as of Thursday morning. Portions of Main Street remained blocked off Thursday as crews continued to secure the area.

Lloyd said multiple agencies responded, and firefighters were still out Thursday morning assessing the situation. The cause is yet to be determined.

“We responded within six minutes which is a normal response for a fire,” he said. “There was fire near the end of the building going up the rear going towards transformers. It was progressing really fast. When these old buildings were built, fire prevention was not one of their paramount concerns.”

Lloyd said the fire progressed rapidly, and there was an unprecedented response from mutual aid partners. Crews from Sherman, Bells, Gunter, North Texas Regional Airport, Bonham, Calera, Oklahoma and Durant, Oklahoma responded to the scene.

“I've been here three months I'll tell you it was inspirational to see all that taking place,” Denison Police Department Chief Mike Gudgel said. “The amount of folks that came from cities all the way into Oklahoma. It was greatly inspiring to me and I hope to the citizens of Denison. I think the fire service as well as police service have a passion for what you do. Those firefighters are passionate about knocking that fire down making sure they were saving as much as they possibly could. I am so very proud of our firefighters here in Denison. They had a long day.”

Reporter Richard A. Todd can be reached by sending an email to rtodd@heralddemocrat.com. You can also follow him on Facebook and Twitter @RichardAToddHD.