STEUBENVILLE - City officials are hoping to allow residents to return to their Washington Square Apartments by Monday afternoon.
Crews from X-Treme Clean of Wellsville and J&J Asbestos Abatement of Levittsburg started taking down the four exterior walls of what is left of the Creegan Co. building on Washington Street Friday morning and planned to return to the site today.
Steubenville Building Inspector Anthony Bodo said members of the demolition crew were unsure if they would work Sunday, "but they hope to have the walls completely down by Monday afternoon."
KNOCKING DOWN THE WALLS — Klare Elser III, owner of the J&J Asbestos Abatement Co. of Leavittsburg, uses a fire hose to keep the Creegan Co. building walls wet while Dan Galeoti of X-Treme Clean knocks down the exterior walls Friday. The Creegan building is expected to be leveled by Monday afternoon, which should allow the residents of the Washington Square Apartment building to return to their homes and the Washington Street underpass to re-open to traffic. -- Dave Gossett
That will mean the residents who have been displaced since a massive fire gutted the building last week will be allowed to go home again.
That is welcome news to Donald Springer, who has visited the site every day since he was ordered to evacuate his apartment at the height of the fire that burned from late in the evening of Dec. 11 through the morning of Dec. 12.
"I have been staying with some good friends, but I will be glad to get back into my own apartment. I actually have presents in my apartment for my friends' kids and I was worried I wouldn't get back in there before Christmas. And, I want to stay in my own apartment again. I appreciate my friends but am looking forward to getting back to my own place," Springer said.
He stood for hours Friday holding an umbrella watching the backhoe operated by Dan Galeoti, the owner of X-Treme Clean, carefully maneuver his machine to pull down the brick walls.
Klare Elser III of J&J Asbestos Abatement used a fire hose to keep the structure completely wet during the demolition work.
"Once the walls are down we will have the material tested for asbestos. If it is contaminated with asbestos, that will require special handling and transportation to an asbestos licensed landfill in Minerva. If it isn't contaminated, we will be able to remove it a little faster," Elser explained.
"Our main goal in proceeding with the demolition of the building is to get the residents back into the apartments as soon as possible. We couldn't let them back into the building when there was a chance the fire-damaged building might collapse. We also want to re-open Washington Street, but can't do that until the Creegan building walls are knocked down," according to Bodo.
The demolition contract was approved Wednesday afternoon after bids were submitted to Urban Projects Director Chris Petrossi and Mayor and Acting City Manager Domenick Mucci.
Petrossi said the city is paying X-Treme Clean and J&J Asbestos Abatement $10,000 for the initial demolition of the structure.
Mucci declared the demolition an emergency at Tuesday night's City Council meeting clearing the way for the work to start immediately.
Steubenville Fire Chief Carlo Capaldi said the cause of the fire is still under investigation.
Steubenville firefighters were joined by firefighters from six other community fire stations in battling the blaze that continued to ignite and burn for several days.
Mary Elaine Creegan Feist thanked the city Tuesday, "for what you have done for our family."
"What the firefighters, police officers and other agencies did that night at the fire was amazing. Those guys kept going back up those ladders to do their jobs in spite of the extreme cold and the water that was spraying everywhere," Feist declared.