DE PERE, Wi. (WBAY) - De Pere’s downtown is getting some closure this week. Three and a half months after a fire destroyed one of its historic buildings, the rubble left behind is getting cleaned up. All in all the process will take about two weeks.
The cause of late-April fire is undetermined. It left several people without a home and many business owners without their livelihood. But all the devastation came with some silver linings.
On Friday, the rubble was slowly but surely being cleared away.
“It has been an eyesore for a long time and a painful reminder, I think, of what happened,” said Jerry Turba.
Jerry and Judy Turba owned the historic property off S. Broadway through their company J & J Enterprises.
“I still remember every inch of the building as if it was still there. Even though I know it’s gone it’s still very vivid, and with all the renters, too. And all the relationships that have been built,” said Jerry.
“I think seeing the cleanup initially, mixed emotions,” said Judy. “One is, this is the end.”
Seeing this space get cleared away is emotional for the Turbas, but they say that the employees with Best Enterprises who are in charge of clearing the space have been going above and beyond.
“They have become almost part of the family also,” said Jerry.
The crew has been stopping work to try and dig out items for former tenants on their own free time.
“They’ve done this for several hours during this cleanup already,” said Jerry.
“Their care and concern and compassion, when it really is not a part of their job has been tremendous,” said Judy.
The community has shown them, and their former tenants, that same compassion from beginning to end.
“To see 14 fire departments here fighting that fire was just heartwarming,” said Jerry. “Yet just unbelievable this kind of community support is there and it is evident.”
“The community’s response to this devastation has been tremendous, it’s been heartwarming,” said Judy. “It’s just been amazing on every level.”
The Turbas do plan to sell the property and wouldn’t mind seeing it become an affordable rental facility. But regardless of what it will be used for, they think it will become a great part of De Pere.
“It’s prime real estate here. It’s going to become something quite spectacular, no doubt,” said Jerry.
“De Pere is thriving and this will be a part of that so we’re excited for the community,” said Judy