Frank Cochran Center damaged by fire

Smoke rises from the Frank Cochran Center at Meridian's Highland Park following a fire Wednesday morning.

The Frank Cochran Center in Meridian will be closed for the foreseeable future due to a fire that caused smoke and fire damage Wednesday morning.

Mayor Percy Bland said an injurance adjuster would review the damage.

No injuries were reported and the fire, which started in the kitchen, appears to be accidental, according to Meridian Deputy Fire Chief Jason Collier.

"Obviously I am going to get down in there and tear it apart and get to the very bottom of the fire to confirm it," Collier said.

Collier said the fire was put out 10 to 15 minutes after firefighters arrived.

The fire department will investigate the fire and if a criminal act was committed, local law enforcement will get involved, Collier said.

The building was unoccupied at the time of the fire. Collier said he wasn't sure if the building is a total loss.

An eighth of the building had smoke damage, while the rest of the building had heat and smoke damage, Collier said.

Collier said when the heat in the building began to rise, it melted the north side of the building and twisted the metal beams inside. The fire was reported around 10:45 a.m. Smoke was still rising from the building around 11:30 a.m. Several city officials, including Mayor Percy Bland and Chief Administrative Officer Richie McAlister were on the scene.

“After we assess all the damage, I think long-term we’re going to improve this facility, but right now we’re hurt that one of our iconic buildings that have had a lot of memories for our citizens here for so many years is damaged like this,” Bland said.

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