Historic J. Knox Corbett House damaged in fire

Historic J. Knox Corbett House damaged in fire
Published: Apr. 19, 2023 at 5:35 PM MST
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TUCSON, Ariz. (13 News) - Part of Tucson’s history has gone up in smoke. Workers with the J. Knox Corbett House downtown are going over the damage after a fire Wednesday morning.

The Tucson Museum of Art had plans to reopen the historic home, but now that’s going to depend on what they find inside.

People with the museum believe the fire started in a dumpster and creeped up the wall leading to damage inside.

“Any damage is significant. It is a historic home,” said Norah Diedrich, the Jon and Linda Ender director and CEO with the Tucson Museum of Art.

The J. Knox Corbett House, was built in 1907. It’s been restored and is filled with furniture, ceramics, and other period pieces dating back to the late 1800s and early 1900s.

According to Tucson Fire, the fire spread quickly and caused significant damage.

″The damage was on the second and third floor. The first floor does not look bad at all. I looked through the door, other than water damage,” Diedrich explained.

The Tucson Museum of Art is picking up the pieces. They’re trying to figure out what’s been damaged and the next steps they need to take.

″The house is drying out,” she said. “There’s water throughout the house and our registrar and other team members of the museum are now getting the supplies we need: respirators, the right gloves, etc. to go into the home and take objects out of the home, store them, tag them, and then move on from there.”

TFD says fire investigators are working to determine the cause of the fire, but no one was injured. The Tucson Museum of Art says because it is a historic building, there was a plan in place in case something like this happened.

“Fortunately, we have a disaster plan. We have a team of staff members who are absolutely wonderful in any kind of situation and we knew right what to do,” Diedrich said.

The J. Knox Corbett House has been closed and the museum was working to get it back open in 2024.

“It had been closed temporarily, so, it’s not currently open to the public. We have plans to open it in the future, but now clearly those will be slightly delayed,” she stated.

Tucson Police say it is too early to determine if this was arson, but the investigation is open and ongoing.