A state timeline indicates the Main Street Fire debris could be gone by the end of June, if there are no unexpected delays. It’s been more than 17 months since the blaze destroyed three downtown buildings leaving behind a long-term eyesore for Lovelock residents and visitors.

The Nevada Department of Environmental Protection took over the cleanup months ago with costs covered by an EPA grant so there should be no costs for property owners or the city. But, the NDEP cleanup process is meticulous due to strict federal and state guidelines that require thorough analysis, safe handling and proper disposal of potentially hazardous material.

In 2020, a city contractor tested the debris and reported low levels of hazardous materials such as asbestos. NDEP later hired a contractor to collect additional “suspect asbestos-containing material”. According to the NDEP timeline, contractor Broadbent & Associates should have debris test results by the end of the month. Asbestos requires special cleanup procedures.

“Any additional asbestos-containing material found in the debris must be abated in a manner that is protective of construction workers and public health and prior to cleanup of the rubble,” the NDEP timeline states.

According to the timeline, negotiations are underway with property owners for access to the burned parcels, a corrective action plan is being prepared and a structural evaluation has or will be done by a structural engineer due to concerns about the “Bank Building.” The structure survived the fire but may have been damaged by intense heat and large volumes of water.

Western Nevada Development District spokesman Don Vetter explained the situation.

“There was a little hitch in the giddyup because there were concerns about the structural integrity of the Bank Building and putting crews and equipment in that vicinity,” he said. “Apparently that analysis has been done by the landowner. I don’t know the exact results.”

In May and early June, Broadbent is scheduled to prepare cleanup contractor bid specs, conduct a pre-bid site visit, review the contractor bids and select a cleanup contractor.

The winning bidder could then start the project in late June but the state’s timeline does not specify exactly when the cleanup will begin or how long it will take. Vetter remains optimistic.

“We’re still looking at June 7 through 18 for selection of the contractor and execution of the contract for the cleanup,” he said. “Sometime after that June date, if we’re on track, we should have the trucks and the shovels and all that stuff. I think we’re still within that timeline...You have to check all the boxes and be sure that you comply with all EPA and state NDEP guidelines.”

On March 23, Broadbent completed an “archaeological significance evaluation” at the burn site. A footnote in the timeline explains why this process was required by the federal government.

“The archaeological significance evaluation will be used to determine if there are any archaeological remains in the rubble that would require specific monitoring during cleanup activities. Because prior to the burn, the site was deemed an historic site, the archaeological significance evaluation is required for NDEP (i.e., federal funding grantee) to comply with Section 106 of the National Historic Preservation Act.”

Meanwhile, the burned lot at 230 Main Street, still covered with debris, has been listed on www.realtor.com for $70,000. Aerial and street-level photos on the website remind viewers of how the Treasures Bookstore, Pershing Pub and a former law office appeared before the fire.

Treasures Bookstore opened five years ago in April, 2016. Store owner Michael Murphy shared his personal collection of about 20,000 books with customers from throughout the region.