OPELIKA, Ala. – Over the weekend, the property owners of the old Leshner Mill brought in equipment and began to bring down some of the walls of the mill in an effort to make the area surrounding the mill safer.
Opelika Fire Chief Byron Prather said the site is safer than it was before, but said it is still very dangerous. Chief Prather said that there are still hot spots inside, and the building will be smoldering for sometime.
The Opelika Fire Department was on scene all weekend performing a fire watch.
Chief Prather said on Tuesday during the fire, a wall fell that busted a water line. The Opelika Water Works Board was unable to get in, but they may be able to get in now due to walls being knocked down.
Chief Prather said the threat of bricks falling from the structure is reduced, but the structure itself still stands. He said the stability of the steel is very questionable as it has been heated, expanded and cooled. Chief Prather said that they realize that sections of First Avenue being closed are an inconvenience, but they are working diligently to get it open, but they want to make sure it is a safe area before it is reopened.
“By no means do we want a pedestrian to be walking or have people traveling down the road with the threat of something falling out on the road or damaging a vehicle,” Chief Prather said. “It’s a real tightrope situation. I know people are ready for it to be open, but we want to make sure it’s safe before we do that. It’ll be something that myself several other department heads will look at and come to a conclusion on.”