I got a call about 5:30 this morning from my neighbor Carmel. “Paul, get up to the rooftop! Downtown is on fire! You gotta come see!” So I threw some clothes on and raced up there. This is what I found:
This is the old Jolly Royal building, next door to the Lincoln American Tower on Court Square. I was told that the First United Methodist Church at Second and Poplar (which is several blocks away) had burned, and embers from that fire had blown over and caught this building on fire. I can believe it; embers were blowing all over the place, and we’re lucky my building and many others downtown didn’t catch on fire too. For a while we had to remain in the glassed-in part of the rooftop because of the embers.
A few minutes after I arrived on the rooftop, the burning building collapsed, sending a fireball nearly the size of the 20-story Lincoln American Tower into the air. Here’s what the building looked like afterward:
About 7:30 I walked up to Court Square. The sidewalks were covered with ashes, as shown in the pic below. I talked to Tom Shelton of Shelton Clothiers, and he said the sidewalks were covered with ash as far south as his store, about 5 blocks south of the fire.