Walking into Neff Eiken and Neff, P.C. law office now means walking into a wide-open husk of a building.
Industrial-size fans roar all around you and what was once a trim, professional firm is now being taken apart. Many spots in the roof are open and walls have come down. It looks more like a construction site than a law firm.
That’s because it is more of a construction site right now. Neff Eiken and Neff’s firm was damaged heavily after the fire that destroyed Gaffaney’s last Sunday.
The firm, based at 111 East Broadway, sustained serious damage to its roof and wall. It also took considerable smoke and water damage. Senior partner Chuck Neff called the damage “major damage.”
None of the firm’s files or client information on the computers were damaged. They were able to save it all.
The current plan is for the firm to move to a temporary location while their building is repaired. Neff was unable to give an exact answer as to when they would be back in their usual office but said they would have a temporary firm set up “in four or five days” that would be ready to take clients.
Despite the massive damages, Neff is still grateful that the building can be repaired.
“The building was built in 1972,” he said. “Back then, they added some structural enhancements, such as a firewall, to the building which kept it from burning down. It took 41 years for us to have to use those enhancements.”
Neff’s daughter, Tara, who was helping out at the building Friday, expressed concern over the damage to the building.
“I’ve been coming here since I was a kid,” she said. “It’s heartbreaking to see it like this.”
Structural engineers will be coming to evaluate the building soon and then Neff and his team will know the full extent of the damages. The firm has set up a message center for calls, and attorneys are currently working at home.
“We’re not gone,” Neff said. “We’re just displaced for a while.”
Neff and his family expressed gratitude to the people in the community who came out to help them with food, water, demolishing damaged parts of the building and anything else. But most of all, Neff wanted to extend his gratitude to the firefighters.
“They were amazing,” he said. “They let us go in the building with them for the first time once it was cool to the touch.”
Nevertheless, Neff was concerned that he could have lost the building — which he very nearly did.
“If there had been a wind from the west, or if the firewall hadn’t worked ... we would have lost the building,” Neff said.