Raw video: Whiskey Row building gutted by fire to be demolished

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by Catherine Holland

Video provided by Jim Koch

Posted on July 31, 2012 at 11:29 AM

Updated Tuesday, Jul 31 at 11:38 AM

PRESCOTT, Ariz. -- The building gutted by a massive fire that tore through Prescott's historic Whiskey Road in early May has been slated for demolition.

The building housed three businesses -- Pearl's Place (recently renamed Larry and Hy's Barbecue), the Birdcage Saloon, and the Prescott Food Store.

In the nearly three months since the fire, there's been a steady stream of people taking pictures of the once lovely site. Tuesday morning was their last chance. Many people also have left notes on the board covering the blown-out windows.

While the owners, Howard and Nancy Hinson, along with the rest of the community had hoped that the façades could be saved, an engineer determined that the structural damage was too extensive.

The front wall of the historic building, beloved by so many, had to come down.

Once the lot is cleared, a walkway will be built to allow people to safely walk along Whiskey Row. The construction will go as the demolition takes place. The demotion project is expected to take between two and three weeks.

Crews will start at the back of the building and work their way forward to the street-facing portion of the building.

While they have not finalized their plans, the Hinsons said they are determined to rebuild and are working with a local architect to develop plans for both restoration and new construction.

"I hope they try to rebuild the way it was becasue that was the heart and the fabric of this town," said resident J.P. Gorham."It'll never be the same, but it'll always be Whiskey Row."

Investigators determined that the small appliance in the back of the Birdcage Saloon sparked the devastating fire.

Every firefighter in Prescott was called out to battle the huge fire the evening of May 8. It took 60 firefighters from 10 engines about two hours to get the flames under control. Nearby communities sent crews for backup.

Almost two dozen people were displaced by the fire, but no injuries were reported. the damage estimate was between $3 million and $5 million.

"It’s a tremendous tourist attraction. People come from all over the world,” Bruce Taylor remarked the day after the fire.

While May 8 fire destroyed three businesses, a fire on July 14, 1900 wiped out the entire block that has been known as Whiskey Row since the late 1800s when dozens of saloons lined the street.

Prescott residents and business owners rebuilt after that fire and the consensus is the same will happen now, nearly 112 years later.

Despite the hole left by Larry and Hy's Barbecue, the Birdcage Saloon, and the Prescott Food Store, almost all of other Whiskey Row businesses are open.

Prescott is about two hours north of Phoenix.

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