Four buildings heavily damaged in Greencastle fire

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Four buildings were heavily damaged in an early morning fire in downtown Greencastle. The buildings are about one block southeast of the courthouse.

The fire was first reported at around 7:00 am by a dentist who had arrived for work early. Perry Wainman smelled smoke and realized the building was on fire. He ran to the adjacent building and started banging on doors to get everyone out.

Fortunately, business owners and people living in the apartments above escaped, running out ahead of the smoke and fire.

"Quick and chaos. It happened pretty quick," said Lester Wilson.

Wilson and his family live upstairs, above the family's photography business they've owned and run for decades. His daughter noticed a bright light.


"I walked up and opened the door and saw nothing but flames," Alisha Wilson said. "I just panicked and ran down the steps and hollered at them."

Several residents and businesses have been displaced by the fire.

The first call came into the fire department from 24 E. Washington. At least seven fire departments responded to the scene, including three aerial trucks.

It took over three hours to get the fire under control. Flames were seen shooting through the roof of one of the buildings.

Four buildings had extensive damage, including fire, water and smoke damage. No damage estimate is available, but the losses are large and personal.

"Do I relocate, re-establish what I've got here? I have to see what damage has been done to the building and see where I am at," Wainman said.

No one was injured in the fire, however, Indiana Landmarks noted the historical significance of the buildings. On the non-profit's Facebook page, they posted this comment from western regional director Tommy Kleckner:

"This is a block east of the Fleenor Building. The three buildings on fire were to be part of Phase I of the Stellar facade rehabs. Just an absolutely terrible event given all of the preservation progress in downtown Greencastle."

A $19 million renovation and restoration project was underway. Two of the buildings were scheduled to have their facades rebuilt within a few weeks.

Mayor Sue Murray is concerned for the families and businesses that have lost so much, but is optimistic for the community.

"It is a setback. It is a setback. But at the end of the day, nobody got hurt. We are going to be okay. We will find ways to do this and get it taken care of, but at the end of the day, everybody is okay," Murray said.

Greencastle's Stellar Communities funding was being used to revamp 14 downtown façades in the courthouse square, including masonry and window repair and new paint schemes. Indiana Landmarks says many of the historic storefronts had been hidden for years: one under a sheath of aqua aluminum, another's original cast iron storefront covered by bricks.