Laurel Fire Destroys Downtown Buildings

(LAUREL, NE) - The town of Laurel, Nebraska woke up to a horrible scene Thursday morning. A fire sparked inside a historical building downtown and now all that's left are bricks and debris.

One of the buildings was an insurance building that burned down to the ground and the brick building was once a bank built in 1902. Firefighters started fighting the fire at about 5:45 a.m. Thursday.

Brick after brick the Laurel National Bank came crumbling down Thursday morning just hours after flames engulfed the 111-year-old building. Firefighters from four surrounding towns helped Laurel fight the flames.

"The siren woke me up. It's right next to us here and I live right on the corner there. And so I jumped right up and not thinking I could see a fire, but I looked out the window and sure enough, right down the street," said Louis Tolles.

Behind the old bank was an insurance office. Now all that's left are pieces to puzzle together.

"I think that was probably heat in that from this first building is what started the second building on fire," said Jeff Going, Investigator for Nebraska State Fire Marshal.

Even after the insurance office was long gone, you could still spot flames coming from the second floor of the bank forcing firefighters to tear down more and more of the brick.

"We brought it down for safety. And what we're trying to do now is put that fire out and then they'll probably tear more down so it doesn't fall down on the public," said Going.

"I've known that building since I was big enough to remember. I was born and raised here," said Tolles.

"It's sad. You hate to see these old buildings fall apart like this. There's some neat history from those old buildings," said Mark Ebmeier.

As of Thursday afternoon, Going said everything points to an accidental fire, but it'll take time to investigate the exact cause.

"It'll just be, change Downtown Laurel," said Ebmeier.

No one was hurt in the fire. The rest of the bank was torn down later in the day. It could take about a week for investigators to find the cause of the fire.