Residents near McClung site in Knoxville still not allowed home

Residents near McClung site in Knoxville still not allowed back home

Posted:
According to the structural engineers, the lone remaining McClung building is at risk of collapsing. According to the structural engineers, the lone remaining McClung building is at risk of collapsing.
Charlene Oesterling was evacuated from her building and still can't return. Charlene Oesterling was evacuated from her building and still can't return.
Thursday morning, an engineering company plans to fly a drone into the building to record the damage, since the building is not safe for a person to go inside. Thursday morning, an engineering company plans to fly a drone into the building to record the damage, since the building is not safe for a person to go inside.

By STEPHANIE BEECKEN
6 News Reporter

KNOXVILLE (WATE) - The remaining McClung Warehouse building is too damaged to save and will be torn down according to Knoxville Mayor Madeline Rogero. She made the announcement Tuesday night after a round of inspections.

Flames lit up the sky in downtown Knoxville Saturday morning as the former warehouse site caught fire again. One building partially collapsed in the fire and had to be demolished and the other was left standing but with doubts about its safety.

Since the fire, firefighters have remained at the site around the clock making sure no one goes near or tries to enter the building. The structural engineer says the building is at risk of collapsing. Because of that, West Jackson Avenue is still closed and the building across the street is still empty. 

For the past three years, Charlene Oesterling has lived directly across the street from the McClung Warehouse buildings. She was home Saturday morning when the massive blaze broke out.

"You just don't know what it's like to look 50 feet out your window and see the whole building engulfed in flames. If it would have been one bad wind, our building would have been gone," said Oesterling.

Oesterling was evacuated from her building.

"It put me in limbo. I didn't know what to take. I had about 20 minutes," said Oesterling.

The West Jackson Workshop building is her home as well as her place of business. Oesterling is a personal trainer and nutritionist. She trains and teaches people how to cook healthily all out of her loft. But now she has to stay with friends and is hoping to be back in her residence soon.

"I've heard a week by the time they demo it and get everything cleaned up and back in," said Oesterling.

Kim Trent with Knox Heritage doesn't want to see the historic building destroyed, but understands the need to tear it down.

"The reality is they just could not be saved and we just hope they come back with something that is of great value that preservationists in 100 years will try to save," said Trent.

Oesterling wants the warehouse demolition to happen soon so she can return home. She is also looking forward to the redevelopment.

"I would love to see it redeveloped into something creative like West Jackson is," said Oesterling.

The people who work and live in the building across from McClung, the West Jackson Workshops, will have to stay out until the area is deemed safe.

The owner of Sanders Pace Architecture, located across the street from McClung, says he is now doing business in the Southern Glass building. He says productivity is down 50 percent because he doesn't have his servers connected and can't work as efficiently in the temporary location.

KCDC's insurance company has hired an engineering company to assess the damage to see the best way to move forward. Thursday morning, the company plans to fly a drone into the building to record the damage, since the building is not safe for a person to go inside.

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