The Prestige Carpets building began to break down and Heflin Construction and Portales Fire Department officials responded to the breakdown on Wednesday afternoon.
Portales Fire Marshall Mike Running said the department received a call at approximately 2 p.m. and the area was cleared about 15 minutes later. In his first few minutes at the scene, he noticed further seperation of the crack in the wall. The crack was after the word “Prestige” and before the word “Carpets” on the wall.
Running was convinced the structure would collapse, regardless of what anybody tried to do to prevent it. He said he figured it would fall today.
“We were just trying to set up a control fall,” Running said. “The biggest concern was having the glass shards shooting out if it fell down.”
The glass was shot out with pellet guns for safety precautions. The merchandise in Prestige Carpets was moved to the back and protected with a makeshift wall of particle board. A pair of neighboring businesses, Cozy Cottage Cross Stitch Shoppe and the Bread Basket restaurant, had windows boarded up prior to the controlled fall, which took place at about 7:30 p.m.
Bill Brown is the owner of the carpet store, located on N. Main on the square.
Marcia Brown, Bill Brown’s wife, said she believes the building was built in the early 1900s. She said it used to be a hardware store and a furniture store, but it’s been Prestige Carpets since 1983. She said she was out of town when the area was first cleared and arrived at the scene at 4 p.m.
Brown said there are two full-time employees and the business also contracts carpet installers. She said Bill rents the building space.
Semi trucks were carrying out some of the rubble from the facing of the store at approximately 9 p.m.
Danny Heflin of Danny Heflin Builders in Portales said he received a call from Bill Brown when Heflin was heading to Muleshoe, Texas. Heflin said he arrived at the scene at 1:30 p.m.
“I called the state building inspector and he came out along with Mike Running,” Heflin said. “They came to a real quick decision to take it apart and clear it up tonight. They wanted to secure it. There were a lot of people from around the community who wanted to help.”
Heflin said the concrete was being hauled out to a pit to crush it. Heflin said being able to catch the defect in time was crucial.
“I feel it would have came down within 24 hours,” Heflin said. “They’re very fortunate it (store wall) didn’t fall down. It could have fallen down on people or cars.”
Heflin said it’s too early to know what caused the wall to crack and begin tilting.
Marcia Brown said the only thing she and her husband can do now is look ahead.
“We just have to get everything repaired and back to normal,” Brown said.