Opelika continues cleanup efforts in 2022 downtown fire

Published: Feb. 3, 2023 at 10:19 PM EST
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COLUMBUS, Ga. (WTVM) - The city of Opelika is continuing clean up efforts at a downtown building that caught fire last year. At The time of the fire the business was closed and no one was inside and as of today it’s still unknown what exactly caused the fire.

“Well, I was sound asleep... I had no idea until the next morning it had happened,” said The Gallery on railroad owner, Debbie Purvis.

In July of last year an overnight fire left Mafias Italian restaurant with nothing but a pile of ashes... they have not relocated since and according to the fire inspector, Bob Parsons the cause of the fire still remains unknown.

“Particularly the downtown area the density is such that we need to have a good constant relationship with the business owners,” said fire inspector Bob Parsons.

The mafias restaurant wasn’t the only building affected…neighboring businesses... Southern Crossing and The Gallery on railroad sustained damage as well, forcing them to find another location.

The Gallery on railroad owner, Debbie Purvis said its been a tough process with inspections, renovations and moving to a new location until its finished… she said the first time she saw the aftermath of the fire it looked like a war zone.

“Everything has to come out, the walls the sheetrock has to come out the ceilings had to come out, all the lighting the carpet everything had to come up,” said Purvis.

Nelson Marsh is the property owner of the space where Mafias burned down… he said right now they are cleaning up the area and working on the neighboring buildings that were affected by the fire… but its still unknown on what business will replace the the restaurants spot.

“At the moment we don’t have any specific plans about the building were going to put back there. We would love to put a building back there but we would love if it was hospitality especially...but we would really prefer to be able to build to a specific Tenant if we have the opportunity,” said Marsh.

Purvis says the community has been so supportive during the transition.

“We hope to be back in the building end of spring very first part of summer and it will be bigger and prettier than ever,” said Purvis.

If you are interested in the old Mafia space click here.