Athens City Council Comments on Union Street Fire Reaction

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City Council members commend Athens for their quick response to the fire on Union Street that left about 40 students without places to stay and closed several businesses.

The fire was first reported on Sunday morning around four when officials say a large fire broke out in the alley behind Union and Court Street. Businesses Jack Neal Floral, Smoke Zone, Campus Sundry, The Union, Jackie O's Public House and the apartments above them were all affected by the fire.

Councilmember Steve Patterson began the Athens City Council meeting on Monday with comments about the fire department’s quick response time and support of the Athens community. “There has been a huge outcry and a supportive outcry from the community telling our businesses over the weekend to stay strong and to rebuild and to make our community even stronger.”

Not only did the Athens and Nelsonville fire departments respond on Sunday, but also volunteer fire departments helped from The Plains, Waterloo, and Richland Avenue.

Mayor Paul Wiehl also commented on the need for community support. He said, “The worst case scenario could happen. We were lucky in one sense, no loss of life. We lost some buildings but the fact is it is a serious event.”

Mayor Wiehl had come from a meeting with the affected businesses earlier in the day at Arts West. He says the city will help the businesses as much as possible. “Going forward would be how to coordinate it. How to expedite any type of permitting that might be needed and that they know what they need to do.”

A portion of the street will remain closed until officials can determine that the buildings are structurally stable. Since most lost floors and roofs, this could affect the stability of the building. Officials want to watch the buildings until they are sure the two story buildings do not fall.