CAMDEN COUNTY, Mo. — The Al Elam building, which was severely damaged by a fire in November, has been demolished. The building, which was built by Al Elam in the 1960’s, housed Reece Nichols Realty and Rock Island Insurance. It was demolished in December, and the owner says he has plans to rebuild.
The fire started in the early hours of Nov. 15, 2020 and no one was in the building when it started, but the blaze resulted in severe fire, smoke and water damage.
“We were in the middle of renovations when it happened. I had just written a check for the lobby that was completed that day (the day of the fire),” said Erik Svoboda, owner of the Al Elam Building.
Stephen Grass, investigations manager with the Missouri Fire Investigation Unit, said the Fire Marshal investigation concluded that the cause of the fire was “undetermined” although he did note there was no sign of foul play. However, according to Svoboda, an insurance investigator said that the fire was caused by an electrical malfunction in the air conditioner.
Svoboda is rebuilding on the same location and he intends to keep the new building design similar to the old one. Some of the interior will be altered to make the building more streamlined.
“It was a beautiful old building and we plan on keeping the exterior very close to how it was,” he said.
For the meantime, Reece Nichols Reality and Rock Island Insurance employees are working from home but should be moving into a temporary office space in the building next door by February. The new building is projected to be done by September 2021.