Until a determination is made that the fire-damaged Ellis Law Building will be repaired, the downtown building has been condemned by the City of Terre Haute.

“There is enough damage to condemn it. The electrical is all burned and power is off, but this is definitely fixable,” said Randy Readinger, city building inspector.

Terre Haute firefighters responded to a blaze Thursday evening at the five-story building at 518 Wabash Ave. The fire was mostly contained to the law firm’s second floor.

Brett Doan, director of fire investigation for the Terre Haute Fire Department, and Mike Fowler of the state fire marshal’s office, searched the building Friday morning for a cause of the fire.

The fire department investigation is ongoing and a cause is not expected to be released until after an investigation by an insurance company is conducted, said Jeff Fisher, spokesman for the fire department.

On Friday, Mike Ellis, attorney and building owner, commended the fire department.

“Even though it looks like a bomb exploded, thanks to the fire department, the fire was contained to primarily one office. There is smoke and water damage everywhere else, but we are going to be able to get stuff out of there and function,” Ellis said.

Ellis stood in the street Friday morning as staff members of the law firm gathered to look at damage. He directed some staff members to rearrange court hearings for next week.

“234-9000 still works,” he said in reference to his heavily advertised law office telephone number. Calls to that number are being routed to an answering service, and then to staff members’ cell phones, Ellis said.

“We’re operating, but we don’t have a place yet,” Ellis said. “It may be an overzealous attempt, but I hope to be operating some place by Monday.”

The law firm is looking at several locations in the downtown as possible areas for a temporary office. Ellis owns the former Silverstein Brothers furniture building next door at 526 Wabash Avenue, but said the building cannot be used, as it lacks adequate bathrooms. That former furniture building will be used for storage, he said.

Ellis said it appears his law building could be remodeled. Ellis opened the law firm in the building with his brother, Kal, in 1991 after an extensive remodeling.

The fire also affected Ellis’ campaign headquarters, located in the building. Ellis is running on the Democratic ticket for prosecutor in the May primary election.

“I just recently made arrangements to have another staff member brought in to help Ellis Law continue to function to allow me to have more free time to get out and campaign,” Ellis said.

“We had set the campaign headquarters up and was preparing for a [campaign] kickoff. Certainly, I need to devote my time to getting Ellis Law back operating, not that I am going to neglect the campaign. Not that I am Superman, but I am going to attempt it all,” he said.

Howard Greninger can be reached at (812) 231-4204 or howard.greninger@tribstar.com.

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