Alfred Washburn Center
7:01 am
Thu December 12, 2013

Washburn Center Fire Under Investigation

Main building of the Alfred Washburn Center was gutted by fire Monday night.
Credit Pensacola News Journal

The state Fire Marshal’s Office continues its investigation into Monday night’s fire at the Alfred-Washburn Center in Pensacola. Ashley Carr with the Fire Marshal’s Office in Tallahassee says the preliminary findings are that the fire began in the attic and was caused by an electrical problem.

Nobody was hurt in the blaze, to which five engine companies responded and were able to bring it under control in about a half-hour. Washburn Director Chuck Porter says the service area was a total loss. Most services offered by the center, such as bag lunches and mail delivery, are now suspended.

The fire left untouched buildings that house shower and laundry facilities, and the center’s clothing distribution program. However, those services have also been suspended.

Meanwhile, the wheels already are in motion to rebuild the facility, which is a ministry of the Society of St. Vincent de Paul. Porter will meet with insurance agents and contractors over the next few days, to determine what steps are to be taken.

The Washburn Center serves an average of 135 clients daily, and more than 200 on some occasions. For now, Porter says they’re being referred to other shelters around the Pensacola area that are part of the EscaRosa Coalition for the Homeless. That includes the new Waterfront Rescue Mission on Herman Street.

Anyone who would like to make a donation to the Alfred Washburn Center can do so at the organization’s website, alfredwashburn.org.

Follow Dave Dunwoody on Twitter at WUWF_Dave    dave@wuwf.org