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Old buildings may have sped spread of Ohio fire

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By The Associated Press
Sunday, March 23, 2014, 9:36 p.m.
 

GARRETTSVILLE, Ohio — The age of several buildings leveled by a fire in the downtown area of a northeastern Ohio village may have contributed to the fast spread of the blaze, the fire chief said on Sunday.

Chief Jeff Kaiser of Garrettsville's fire department said two firefighters suffered smoke inhalation but weren't seriously injured. The blaze swept through a historic downtown block on Saturday afternoon, The Plain Dealer in Cleveland reported.

Police said the first call about the blaze came in shortly after 1 p.m. Saturday, saying, “Main Street is on fire,” the Akron Beacon Journal reported.

Thirteen businesses in four buildings were affected. Three of the four buildings were made of wood and were built in the 1800s, before modern fire codes, Kaiser said Sunday.

The Portage County fire investigation unit and state fire marshal's office are trying to determine the cause of the blaze.

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

“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 said. “It's gone.”

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