Fri September 13, 2013
Fire Destroys Islamic Center, Damages Multiple Buildings In Downtown Winona
A large fire in the heart of downtown Winona has destroyed buildings on one of its busiest commercial streets.
The fire destroyed the Winona Islamic Center, leaving a gaping hole on 3rd Street. Two surrounding buildings may also be a total loss – one an outdoor recreation store, and the other a law firm housed in an historic brick building.
Realtor and City Council Member Michelle Alexander assessed the damage to a large, corner brown brick building that her father owns: It, like other buildings, has extensive smoke and water damage but should reopen. Alexander says she’s heartbroken, because at least seven businesses have severe fire damage.
“I’m concerned that some of these stores may decide that it’s not worth reopening,” says Alexander. “They’ve really made the downtown a fun place to be again. You have all these different unique stores, which I love.”
Alexander says despite the losses, she’s hopeful the fire won’t stop people from traveling to Winona.
Mayor Mark Peterson says the city will be working with businesses to get them back on their feet, and he’s reached out to the state.
“Downtown Winona has been working hard to revitalize itself,” he says. “This is a setback, but it doesn’t mean we can move on from this.”
Peterson says that it could have been worse, and he’s thankful no one was injured. At least 16 people lost their homes. Winona State University and area hotels are providing temporary housing for the displaced.
The cause of the fire is still under investigation.