The vacant 124-year-old Porterville Hotel was destroyed by fire early Thursday morning before the city could carry out its own demolition of the building.
The three-story hotel on the northeast corner of Olive Avenue and Main Street in downtown Porterville had been destined for demolition as far back as 2007, when the city got a federal grant to tear it down.
Brad Dunlap, the Porterville community development director, said the City Council held a special meeting Thursday morning and declared a state of emergency so the city could be reimbursed for expenses and cleanup could be prioritized. Contractors have been brought in to remove unstable wall segments, clear debris and fence off the property.
"We couldn't leave it in the condition it remained after the fire," Dunlap said. "But this affects the scope of the demolition. There is still a basement to be demolished."
The fire damage was not limited to the hotel, Dunlap said. The north wall shared with Porterville Auto Parts collapsed into the store. Dunlap said the store was severely damaged.
Dunlap credited firefighters for preventing the fire from spreading to other historic buildings in downtown Porterville. He said the complete demolition of the hotel will occur when the rest of the contracts are in place for the work.
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