Jessamine County

Remains of burned-out Nicholasville apartment building are likely to be torn down

Nicholasville authorities are trying to determine the cause of a Thursday night fire that destroyed one of the city's oldest buildings.

The two-story building at First and Walnut streets will be torn down, possibly as soon as Saturday, said Lt. Johnny Adams of the Nicholasville Fire Department.

"It's structurally unsound," Adams said Friday. "It was termite-infested, anyway. It is a historical building, but this was the second fire it's seen in 25 years. It caused significant damage both times."

Nicholasville police and fire investigators took photographs Friday morning, but no cause has yet been determined, Adams said.

"We don't believe it was a fire for profit or anything. There are suspicious circumstances," Adams said. "The way the fire behaved, it could have had help."

No accelerant was found in the preliminary investigation, he said.

But the building "was packed" with household belongings, and that "definitely contributed to the spread of the fire," Adams said. "It appears it burned pretty intensely and rather quickly. The amount of stuff in there certainly could have contributed to that. The way the building was laid out contributed to that."

The building was divided into six to eight apartments, but everyone who lived there was being evicted, Adams said. The only occupied apartment at the time of the fire was a rear unit where firefighters found a pregnant woman sleeping. She got out unharmed.

The investigation is being led by Nicholasville police, who will interview witnesses and have analysis done on evidence that investigators have collected.

Emergency crews received a call at 5:19 p.m. Thursday that the building was engulfed in flames.

The original log cabin, which can be seen in photographs of the latest fire, is thought to have been built more than 200 years ago and was home to the Matthews family, said Wini Yunker, chairwoman of the Nicholasville Historic Preservation Commission.

"The Matthews family were among the first in Nicholasville," Yunker said. The city traces its beginnings to the 1790s.

Dr. Rice Teater, a Nicholasville physician, lived in the building in the early 1950s. In her book, Jessamine's Patchwork, author Elexene Cox recounts how Teater was pulled from the burning house in an October 1952 blaze. Teater died from his injuries.

The property was later owned by another man who discovered the original logs when he added apartments, Yunker said.

Adams said the building was not listed on the National Register of Historic Places because it had been significantly modified from its original structure.

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