The 300 block of west Main Street in downtown Denison took a big step towards recovery this week with the start of the demolition of the three structures considered a total loss following the downtown Denison fire on Oct. 9.

Denison City Manager Jud Rex said the city began making preparations last week with the equipment starting to tear down the walls Monday.

“This is really the first step in getting to the point where we can rebuild and fill in the gap the fire caused,” Rex said. “This is a huge step forward to keep us moving ahead.”

The cause of the fire still has yet to be determined.

“We know it was an accidental fire,” Rex said. “We concluded that. We may really never know what exactly caused it. That is never going to be determined due to the extent of the damage.”

Rex said the biggest challenge was getting the walls down. Now, they are clearing out the rubble and making room for new construction to begin in the future.

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“It was a devastating fire,” Rex said. “We're still cognizant of it. The events are fresh in our mind — the loss incurred by many — we're fortunate there were no injuries. A lot of personal goods were lost. That is still fresh on people's minds. As we're down the road a couple of months trying to clean up, now folks are happy and excited about the next steps — being able to rebuild what was lost.”

The cleanup is expected to last 30-60 days. Rex said the city is hopeful it will be done sooner, but weather and other factors could change that. The clean up will not interfere with the city's Designing Downtown Denison project that is expected to begin in the spring of 2020.

“Businesses are still open in the 300 block,” Rex said. “You can still drive down portions of the street and park on Main Street. You can still do holiday shopping and enjoy the good, local businesses that we have here. There is a good sense of optimism out there. The city is moving ahead. While the loss was great, we are ready to bring brighter and bigger things to downtown Denison.”

Rex cautioned the public to avoid the fenced in area saying the contractors need a safe environment for the demolition to take place in a timely manner.