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MORE INFORMATION: Alfred Washburn Center fire investigation
ESCAMBIA COUNTY -- The State Fire Marshal is investigating a fire that heavily damaged the Alfred Washburn Center. It was a center that provided homeless people with food, clothing, showers, and other services. It's located on Murphy St. in the Brent area of Pensacola. Firefighters were called out around 8:00 Monday night. No one was inside at the time. The State Fire Marshals office said the fire started in the attic and it's believed to be electrical. Stevie Gibson had been going to the center for a few months. He showed up Tuesday morning to get a new ID. He was emotional when he saw the building. He said, "I know they will get it fixed back. I hope people will help. They a lot of people. This is probably the best thing in Pensacola.
The center was a refuge for many homeless people. They served more than 32,000 people a year. Gibson said, "It's helped me a lot. They gave me clothes, food, coffee.
It was difficult for the director, Chuck Porter to turn people away, not knowing when they'll reopen. He said, "Not having the facility available will be a real detriment to these individuals, we want to help them.
It might not take too long to open back up, considering many of the people they help are now stepping up and cleaning to help in return. Kenny fields has been coming to the center for 5 years. He says it's the least he can do because of all they've done for him....
The two other buildings that provide clothing and showers were not damaged. They do paperwork and ID services every Tuesday. That will be done at the Waterfront Mission while they repair the building.