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Cause of Garrettsville Fire Officially “Undetermined”

Garrettsville – The Ohio State Fire Marshal announced last week that the cause of the March 22 fire which decimated the Buckeye Block on historic Main Street is officially undetermined. 

garrettsville-fire-cause-undeterminedAt the same time, the fire marshal’s public information officer, Michael Duschesne, noted that state investigators had taken into consideration that hot-seal repair/patch work was being done on a portion of roof above one of the affected businesses that day. However, he said there wasn’t enough evidence to single that out as the cause of the fire that destroyed more than a dozen businesses.

“We could not rule out the use of a torch in the ignition of roofing materials as the source,” he said.

Each insurance company conducts its own independent investigation and may arrive at different conclusions than the state, depending on the evidence they discover. At this point, he said there is only circumstantial evidence linking a roofing torch to the fire. There is no proverbial “smoking gun” proving that a specific torch was the heat source that started the fire.

Meanwhile, cleanup along Main Street proceeds slowly. Most properties must undergo asbestos assessments through the Environmental Protection Agency before securing demolition permits which clear them to proceed with removal of debris. To date, only the site of Shaker Tree is rubble-free.

High Street was re-opened last week, and electricity to street lights surrounding the fire scene are expected to be restored sometime this week by Ohio Edison, says Garrettsville Mayor Rick Patrick. Restoration is taking place at Mishler’s law office; the only building left standing on the charred block.

“Garrettsville is open,” stressed the mayor. “All of our restaurants and other shops are open for business. This town is not closed up. By Memorial Day Weekend — in time for our first Cruise Night — all the rubble should be cleared away, that fence should be taken down, the sidewalks should be re-opened, and, hopefully, the property owners will plant grass there so the community can enjoy an open green space until re-building takes place.”


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Estelle R. Brown is a freelance writer who lives in Garrettsville with her family. She has written and taken photos for newspapers, magazines and e-zines for the past 25 years. She also enjoys working on public relations projects, including web content, newsletters, posters, brochures, press releases, and other creative endeavors. She enjoys writing compelling stories about her community as a contributing reporter for the Villager.