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Firefighters can't determine what sparked massive Harriman fire | News

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Firefighters can't determine what sparked massive Harriman fire
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Firefighters can't determine what sparked a massive fire that ripped through a historic building in downtown Harriman last month.

For more than a week after a fire burned the Miller and Brewer Building to the ground, firefighters dug through the rubble, searching for evidence as to what started the massive fire on Jan. 8.

Harriman Fire Chief Brad Goss said the fire was so hot, it destroyed any clues that firefighters could use to figure out what happened.

The Milller and Brewer Building was once the largest building in Harriman, but has sat vacant in recent years.

On Friday, 10News reported that city officials from Harriman and Knoxville were having trouble reaching the property owner, Fikret Gencay. Records show officials started seeing issues with Fikret Gencay's buildings in 2004, a year after he purchased Miller & Brewer Building. As of Friday, officials said they haven't been able to locate Gencay since the day of the fire.

The fire cleanup could cost more than $100,000. The city has filed suit against Gencay for the cost, but hasn't heard back. If he doesn't step up, taxpayers could foot the bill for paying off the debt. Crews will also have to demolish two other buildings next to the Miller and Brewer Building because the fire made them unsafe.

More than a dozen fire departments battled the flames for about 48 hours. The fire was so powerful, firefighters couldn't enter the structure. Instead, crews stayed outside of the building, dousing the structure with water, eventually allowing it to collapse.

"We can't put guys into buildings like these. Buildings like these are killing firefighters across the country and we didn't want to take that chance," said Goss.


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