The Denton County Commissioners’ Court held an emergency meeting Wednesday to discuss the Downtown Mini Mall fire on the Square and how it has impacted the Courthouse on the Square.
With Commissioners Andy Eads and Bobbie J. Mitchell present, County Judge Mary Horn called the meeting to order at 10 a.m.
Horn said due to a wind coming in from the east at the time of the fire, the courthouse sustained smoke and soot damage. The building and museum will be closed until further notice. The commissioners’ court will meet at the Denton County Elections Administration building until the courthouse is habitable again.
The Downtown Mini Mall on the Square broke out into a four-alarm fire early Tuesday morning, causing severe damage to the mall, as well as smoke and soot damage to businesses around it.
Office of History and Culture director Peggy Riddle said the expected cleanup may take anywhere from 10 days to two weeks.
Denton County Director of Facilities Danny Brumley said the process is moving faster than expected, but they are currently trying to get more workers and volunteers so they can work around the clock.
Horn said the cost of the damage is still to be determined, but noted it will reach at least the thousands. The total cost will depend on how extensive the work is and how long it will take.
When the cost of a project reaches a certain threshold though, the county must go out for bid. When they reach out for bids, companies have 30 days to respond.
“We don’t have 30 days, we need to get on this right now,” Horn said. “To bypass state law of the bid process, the state law allows us to declare an emergency and post and hold an emergency meeting.”
Officials at the meeting noted one of the major concerns being exhibits that may be damaged in the museum but do not belong to the county. Michelle Brewer, the assistant director of Human Resources for the county said there is insurance for the building and artifacts within the building.
“We have volunteers that come in and run the museum and we have artifacts on display in there,” Horn said. “We’re concerned, especially about anything that has been lent to the county, we don’t want it damaged — another reason to get on it right away.”