Garrettsville rebuilds after fire


Jenna Watson

Two Garrettsville emergency personnel review damage along Main Street, Sunday, March 23, 2014, after the prior day’s fire burned 13 businesses to the ground.

Associated Press

Two firefighters were injured and 13 businesses were destroyed by a fire that swept through a historic downtown block in the Portage County village of Garrettsville Saturday, March 22.

Officials said 34 local fire departments responded to the scene. The injured firefighters suffered smoke inhalation and were released from the hospital.

Police said dispatchers received a call around 1:15 p.m. March 22 that “Main Street is on fire.”

Fire officials told WKYC-TV that the fire started at the corner of Center and Main streets and spread to four buildings in Garrettsville, a town of about 2,200 residents.


Friends and family of Kim Kholi, the attorney located in the brick building that survived the fire on Main Street in Garrettsville March 22, remove belongings from the building in preparation for her relocation, Monday, March 24, 2014. The fire burned 13 businesses to the ground. Photo by Jenna Watson.

The age of several buildings might have contributed to the fast spread of the fire, Garrettsville’s fire chief said March 23.

Chief Jeff Kaiser of Garrettsville’s fire department said two firefighters suffered smoke inhalation but weren’t seriously injured in the blaze, The Plain Dealer reported.

The fire affected 13 businesses in four buildings. Three of the four buildings were made of wood and built in the 1800s before modern fire codes, Kaiser said March 23.

State arson investigators said March 24 that the fire was not caused by a criminal act.

A barbershop, several novelty shops and a food pantry were among the businesses lost, and there were people in most of the businesses when the fire broke out, Mayor Rick Patrick said.


Brandon Davis, a chef at the Main Street Grille and Brewing, sweeps ash from the patio, Monday, March 24, 2014. The fire March 22 burned 13 businesses to the ground. Photo by Jenna Watson.

“We’re very fortunate everyone got out OK,” Patrick said.

Kaiser said it could be several weeks before authorities can determine the dollar amount of the damage.

Kim DelTorto, owner of the Chic & Shabby Resale Shop that was destroyed, said four people were in her store when someone ran inside to say the block was on fire.

She said she spent a couple of years restoring the store built in the 1800s and loved that it had its original tin ceiling.

“I keep thinking about that ceiling,” DelTorto told the Beacon Journal. “It’s gone.”

Local high school math teacher Dave Opfer said he knew several of the business owners affected by the fire.

“Everybody kind of knows everybody here,” he said. “We’ll all pull together and rebuild.”

—Associated Press

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