The slow dismantling of the former Porter Lumber Company buildings in Morenci sped up Saturday afternoon when the showroom and offices were demolished due to safety concerns.
A crew of Amish workers had been taking apart buildings on the site for several months, said Keith Pennington of the Morenci Church of the Nazarene. The church owns the property.
Last week the roof trusses were removed from the main building, leaving the old concrete block walls standing.
The owner of neighboring property contacted city officials when he was concerned the walls might fall before they were to be demolished.
If the front wall were to collapse, he said, material could fall onto the sidewalk and utility poles could be damaged. The poles support primary electric lines into the downtown area.
City building inspector Kevin Arquette made the decision to collapse the walls and Mel’s Construction of Waldron was hired to do the work.
As a precaution, Consumer’s Energy shut the power off through the line while the front wall was knocked over.
Pennington apologized on behalf of the church for any inconvenience the shutoff might have caused, but he was pleased that a relatively short interruption was possible rather than a much longer outage had there been an accident.
Arquette was also happy with how smoothly the operation went. Consumers and Michigan Gas Utilities were both involved, in addition to the fire department, which assisted with traffic control.
“For the first time running through something like that, everything went really well,” Arquette said. “It was a well-coordinated effort.”
Pennington will check with the Amish crew to see what else they might want from the site for recycling before the debris will be removed. He said the property will be cleaned off and the grades made safe.
The church bought the property with plans to construct a new worship facility and community center.
Currently, there are no plans to build on the site, Pennington said, and the church will consider selling the land to an interested buyer.