City leaders start aggressive code enforcement against abandoned motel

An already damaged building caught fire. Now, it’s causing even more problems for city code enforcers.

We’re talking about the old motel on Paducah’s south side at 2301 Irvin Cobb Drive. Firefighters responded Tuesday night out of concern for safety in the area and even shut down surrounding roads. But with more destruction to an already damaged building, city leaders say what they can do is limited.

City leaders say the building’s had a demolition order on it since 2012. That’s because it’s privately owned and has changed owners several times.
The Fire Marshal says for a building this size, demolition expenses are too much for the city to absorb, and the city would have to take some legal steps to get it torn down.

Deputy Fire Marshal April Tinsman says it’s at an accident that could have been prevented, and "it was a matter of time."

That’s why, with Tuesday night’s fire, the city is now taking aggressive measures on the abandoned building. "Vacant buildings being left like this is one reason the city’s code enforcement program is so active," Tinsman says.

Tinsman says code enforcement says buildings like these shouldn’t be standing, but buildings of this size this take time and a lot of money, especially when the city doesn’t own the building. "Why we want it boarded up and why we want it demolished is because this is what would happen," she says. 

Fire Marshal deputies say the building would cost hundreds of thousands of dollars to demolish, not only to level the building, but also to take care of the hazardous materials already inside.

Until the city can come to a conclusion on the condemned building, Tinsman says it’s still a danger.

"Just thank goodness no one got hurt," Tinsman says.

Paducah police reports listed arson as the cause of the fire but, because the fire marshal deemed it an accident, they will not investigate it any further.

The deputy fire marshal says it’s the owner’s responsibility to board up the entrances. We reached out to the owner of the building for comment, but have not heard back.

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