Greencastle Square Blaze May Prompt Review Of City Fire Code

Just one business owner has come to an agreement with his insurance company following a fire which left four firms homeless.

greencastle fire

Photo: Sehvilla Mann/WFIU News

Buildings on the Greencastle square were damaged by a May 17 fire.

Three weeks after a fire severely damaged several buildings near Greencastle’s courthouse square, just one business owner has reached an agreement to rebuild.  Greencastle Mayor Sue Murray says owners of the four businesses displaced by the blaze have told her they’d like to move back into the spaces from which they were removed when flames broke out on May 17th, but only dentist Perry Wainman has reached an agreement with his insurance company thus far.  He says he expects to be paid back for almost all of what he lost.

“Right now, of course we’ve got what we call a loss of income part of it, but I think the building was registered right at $300,000 and the contents about $180,000.  So essentially half a million dollars,” Wainman says.

Trucks and hoses from 12 departments helped put out the fire, which Murray says may cause city officials to rethink its fire code rules.

“I’m sure that’ll be a conversation that we have with counsel and I have with my fire department,” Murray says. “And whether or not there are other proactive things that we can do that won’t be a tremendous penalty on those people who have older buildings.”

Murray says DePauw University officials, who own a coffee shop and bookstore just a block from where the fire started, were concerned about the fact state law governs buildings built before the turn of the century differently than it does new construction – and about the fact that older buildings like the ones that burned may be more fire-prone.

Murray says she hasn’t gotten a firm read on what it might cost to retrofit the buildings and make the business owners whole financially, but has heard estimates in the low seven figures. Wainman has restarted his practice with help from other local dentists and plans to move into a vacant dentist’s office about two blocks from his previous location while his old space is repaired over the next 4-6 months.

Here’s a link to Indiana Public Media’s coverage of the fire:

Stan Jastrzebski

WFIU/WTIU News Senior Editor Stan Jastrzebski spent time as a reporter with WGN Radio in Chicago and as an editor at Network Indiana, an Indianapolis news service. Stan is the winner of awards from the Associated Press, the RTDNA, the Indiana Broadcasters Association and the Society of Professional Journalists. He hosts WFIU's Ask the Mayor and anchors WTIU's InFocus.

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