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First Street Plaza cleanup starts soon

China Kitchen fire Marble Falls, Texas

Thousands of pounds of debris remain after an October 2023 fire destroyed First Street Plaza in Marble Falls. Investigations into the blaze were completed in January and now work can begin to clean up the site. Staff photo by Nathan Bush

Marble Falls city officials anticipate debris cleanup at First Street Plaza to begin in early February now that investigations by insurance companies and the Texas State Fire Marshal’s Office have been completed.

The downtown site has been fenced-off and untouched since the Oct. 4, 2023, blaze destroyed several businesses, including China Kitchen, Family Taekwondo Center, and Hudson Electric. The Fire Marshal’s Office ruled the cause of the fire as “undetermined” in January after two months of investigations.

Property owner Marble Falls Partners LP is responsible for cleanup.

“We’re looking at probably the first of (February),” Marble Falls Assistant City Manager Russell Sander told when asked about a start date.

Work to clear the site has been hampered for several reasons, he continued.

“They hired a new vendor (to clear the site), and there were some questions on some state permits that may be required that they were not clear on,” Sander said. “That’s what they’ve been working on.”

Sander, a former fire chief for Marble Falls and Missouri City, has firsthand knowledge of how long fire investigations and cleanups can take.

“From my background, I understand that these things do take time because of the various insurance companies they have to go through,” he said. “It takes a while to go through all those processes.”

A chain-link fence was erected several days after the blaze to ward off unwanted explorers.

“It’s dangerous,” Sander said of the site. “That’s why we had it fenced off.”

Having a burned structure in a central part of town is another incentive to clean the site as quickly as possible.

The Marble Falls code enforcement department will step in if the property owner fails to move forward with their plans, but Sander does not think that will be necessary.

“Through talking with (Fire) Chief Tommy Crane, we’re very confident that the (property owner) is going to get this taken care of,” he said.