Sands-Dorsey building collapses under fire

Prompted by a Tuesday morning fire, Tucumcari city officials approved the demolition of half of the Sands Dorsey building.

QCS photo: Thomas Garcia

The remains of the Sands Dorsey building still smolders Tuesday afternoon. The building caught fire twice Tuesday morning once at 1 a.m., and again at 3 a.m.

"The cause of the fire is unknown at this time," Tucumcari Fire Chief Mike Cherry said, "and is being viewed as suspicious."

Cherry and City Manager Doug Powers were overseeing crews from Daniel Construction as they knocked down the west wall of the rear portion of the building.

"The fire damaged the southern portion of the building," Powers said. "The fire damaged the structural integrity of the west wall, which needs to be brought down."

Cherry said city fire crews responded twice to a fire early Tuesday morning at the building. The first fire, Cherry said, was an external fire on the east wall, around plywood covering the windows. The second time they were called out, at 3 a.m., Cherry said the southern portion of the building was fully engulged. City crews took two hours containing the blaze.

Cherry said there Tuesday afternoon there still some smoldering debris under the east wall which collapsed as fire crews arrived on scene.

Powers said after he examined the damage, he contacted the city commissioners to discuss a course of action.

"It was apparent the west wall had to come down," Powers said. "I contacted several construction companies for a quote to bring down the wall."

Powers said Daniel Construction was hired for $4,000 to knock down the west wall and clean up the brick debris that fell on the sidewalk and street.

City officials have been looking for a way to demolish the Sands Dorsey building since it was destroyed by a fire in 2007.

Hazardous materials including asbestos and mercury are located in remains of the north portion of the building. That portion of the building still stands and has no left city officials with the question on how to proceed.

"This may provide a window for us to apply for money to complete the demolition," said commissioner Robert Lumpkin.

Lumpkin said the main priority is bringing down the unstable walls and cleaning up the area for the safety of the residents.

Powers said the city may have to block of a portion of Second Street for public safety.

"We are going to look in to sources to remove the remainder of the building," Powers said.

Lumpkin said it may be best to act now, in seeking money from federal or state level agencies.

"The quicker we respond to this incident may work out in our benefit," Lumpkin said. "We can show the agencies the damage caused by this incident and express the urgency of preventing another."

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