Demolition begins on Irwin Block building

COLUMBUS, Ind. — A brick-by-brick demolition of the Irwin Block building began Monday afternoon, seven weeks after a fire destroyed the structure in downtown Columbus.

Indianapolis firm Casey-Bertram has been hired for the demolition.

Estimator and project manager Jimmy Arthur said in a previous interview that the company would first take down the east firewall by hand, which should take about a week, and then move on to using heavier machinery to demolish the rest of the building.

The firewall prevented more serious damage from happening to the Greater Columbus Indiana Economic Development Corp. and Columbus Area Chamber of Commerce offices located next door to the Irwin building, Columbus firefighters said after the fire.

The Fifth Street block in front of the Irwin building, and the rear of the building that faces an alley, have been fenced off since the fire occurred.

When asked how soon this section of Fifth Street might reopen, Columbus Mayor Jim Lienhoop said “as soon as we (the city) deem it safe.”

“They tell us that the demolition could take six to eight weeks, so that could put us at the end of February,” he said,”But we’re hopeful that we can open up, that we’ll be able to access the street and the alleyway sooner than that, but it’ll all be dependent upon how the demolition progresses.”

He added that residents should keep their distance from the worksite.

For the complete story and more photos, see Tuesday’s Republic.