Cause of Fire that Destroyed Historic Buildings in Bisbee, AZ, Probed

Feb. 16, 2024
Bisbee firefighters as well as those from mutual aid departments battled the blaze for several hours.

Erika Wurst

The Arizona Daily Star, Tucson


Feb. 16—Fire officials are still trying to determine the cause of a Wednesday night fire that destroyed two businesses on Main Street in Bisbee's historic downtown.

The fire, which broke out around 9:15 p.m., was fully engulfed when fire fighters arrived on scene, with flames visible from both the back and roof of each building. The fire destroyed two local businesses: Many Fine Things, an antique shop; and Bisbee Olive Oil.

There were no injuries, fire officials said.

The former mining town about 100 miles southeast of Tucson is a popular tourist destination.

As of Thursday afternoon, fire crews remained on scene putting out smoldering debris to keep it from flaring up, said Bisbee Fire Inspector Kevin Pacheco.

The city's Facebook page described a chaotic scene as it put the word out Wednesday about the blaze. Much of the buildings' brick facades had tumbled onto the streets.

Each business had a residential unit built above the shop, but Pacheco said he did not believe anyone resided in either.

A nearby motel, with fewer than a dozen rooms, was evacuated as crews worked to extinguish the blaze.

While fires in Bisbee aren't uncommon, Pacheco said fire crews try their best to keep them from flaring up on Main Street, which is full of historic buildings that are over 100 years old. It is a popular area for tourists, with shops and restaurants lining the street.

On Valentine's Day, when the fire broke out, there were plenty of people still out and about enjoying their evenings together.

"I don't know who called, how it started, or where it started," Pacheco said. These are things that will be investigated in the upcoming days, he said.

Bisbee Mayor Ken Budge shared images of the blaze on social media overnight, lauding the efforts of all first responders involved.

"A tragic fire on Main street tonight. Was held from spreading with heroic effort from our Firefighters and help from many other departments," Budge wrote. "The burned buildings walls are unstable, so Main street will be affected until things can be made safe."

Firefighters from across the area worked together to keep the fire from spreading into more buildings along Main Street, including units for Douglas, Sunnyside, San Jose, Naco Fire and Palominas.


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