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City Cafe to be demolished
City Cafe owner Junior Medley talks to a TV reporter

The City Cafe building is expected to be leveled in the next day or so after a fire destroyed the downtown business Sunday.

Building owner Penny Medley says demolition will start once the comic book store next door is completely moved out.

"We're not going to start tearing down a building until the people next door are out," said Penny. "Their safety is involved and when we starting tearing down our building who knows what's going to happen to theirs. We'll get started when they are out."

Several firefighters escaped what would have likely been serious injury when they were working on the roof. The fire had died down and was thought to be under control Sunday afternoon when there was a sudden flash and the fire erupted again while firefighters were cutting a hole in the roof.

Firefighters left equipment behind in their rush to get off the roof, which collapsed.

“It’s the closest call we’ve had to getting somebody hurt bad,” said McMinnville Fire Chief Kevin Lawrence.

The building was gutted by the fire that burned into the night Sunday. Firefighters returned to the scene Monday morning to soak the building more, and then returned again Monday afternoon when there was a heavy natural gas odor. A purge of a nearby natural gas line resulted in the smell.

The fire first started around 2:30 p.m. Sunday, about 30 minutes after owner Junior Medley left the business after brunch. McMinnville firefighters appeared to have it contained about an hour later as the heavy smoke which filled downtown was gone and there were no signs of flames.

However, firefighters cutting a hole in the roof apparently gave the fire the air it needed to rekindle. Flames kicked back up, the roof collapsed, and firefighters were fortunate to avoid injury.

“There’s no saving it now,” said Junior after conducting a TV interview in front of City Cafe on Monday. “I’d like to knock it down as soon as we can so nobody gets hurt.”

With fear one of the remaining walls might collapse and fall into the street, Medley thought about having the building leveled Monday afternoon. However, it was pushed back to allow the insurance adjuster time to evauate the scene and to allow the next-door tenants time to get their stuff out.

Junior and Penny have been bombarded by questions about what they will do next and whether they have plans to reopen City Cafe. Penny said Monday afternoon the fire has been a shock and they haven't had time to let the disaster settle in. She said they are not sure about their next course of action other than to have the building demolished as soon as possible

The scene was eerily similar to a March 2008 fire which destroyed the building two doors down from City Cafe. Firetrucks even parked at almost exactly the same spots. Just like the 2008 fire, spectators lined Main Street on Sunday and vehicular traffic was heavy Monday from motorists wanting to catch a glimpse of the destruction.

As for surrounding structures, the comic book store next door operated by Shawn Priest suffered heavy damage. Priest estimates about 40 percent of his merchandise was damaged. He is in the process of getting everything out as quickly as possible because it's not known how the building will fare once demolition begins.

Garner Loudermilk is the building owner.

The Dinty Moore building located behind City Cafe received significant water damage just as it did in 2008. However, Dinty Moore did not suffer any fire damage. It is owned by Mark Latka.