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Burned store unsafe for intruders

Jan Bullock’s Posey Place used to smell like soap and candles,but now it smells of the charred remains of what used to be part ofBrookhaven history.

And the heartbreak of losing her store, which was not only abusiness but a dream to Bullock, doesn’t stop in those ashes. She’snow having to deal with the idea that people are entering thepremises – structurally unsound as they are – and taking what isleft of the merchandise.

“Those racks over there were full,” she said, indicating theracks closest to one wall. “Things had been taken off them andthings were overturned, just since yesterday.”

Bullock said it’s difficult to tell what was missing,exactly.

“We could see right off there were things missing from thefront,” she said. “And I can assure you, there’s nothing in thereworth risking your life for.”

The structure was boarded up Wednesday afternoon to keepintruders out as much as possible.

City Building Inspector Walter Temple said the structures of allthe buildings damaged in the fire are extremely unsound, and anyonewho enters them is taking their well-being into their ownhands.

“There are a lot of loose bricks sitting on those beams inthere,” he said. “That second-floor lumber could come down at anytime. If you’re in there, it’s at your own risk.”

Fire Chief Bob Watts agreed, saying the only people who shouldbe entering the building are its owners and those in an officialcapacity.

“People definitely need to stay away from those buildings,” hesaid. “The general public doesn’t need to go in there for anyreason, especially not shoplifting or sightseeing.”

Bullock said there had been inspectors in the building in recentdays and investigations will continue.

“They’re trying to figure out how to save the facade and partsof the building,” she said. “Unfortunately, we probably won’t knowwhat can be rebuilt until everything is torn down.”

By “everything,” Bullock meant what has not already fallen inthe aftermath of the blaze. That, said Temple, is what makesintrusion into the premises such a danger.

“The partition walls are not stable,” said Temple. “If youpulled the wrong piece you could pull all sorts of thingsloose.”

With engineers and inspectors unable to tell exactly when or ifthe rebuilding process can begin, business owners and the city arehaving to think about cleaning up the rubble.

“I think the cleanup is going to have to be a joint effort,”said Temple.

Bullock agreed, saying the cleanup and reconstruction will becostly and time-consuming.

“We used to feel like such a positive part of downtown, and nowthere’s all this mess,” she said. “And we’re not sure how we’regoing to get it done, exactly. I know we’d like to rebuild, but itdoesn’t look like we’ll be able to soon.”