At 1: 15 PM on Saturday, March 22nd, The Village of Garrettsville suffered a fire of catastrophic proportions involving the historical area known as the Buckeye Building, situated on Main Street, in the heart of downtown Garrettsville. Garrettsville’s ladder truck. one pumper/tanker, and one tanker were all on scene and beginning fire suppression within six minutes of dispatch alerting the fire department. A total of 54 pieces of fire apparatus responded to this emergency from multiple counties, and a total of 142 firefighters (not including the retired ones who came to lend a much needed hand) were on scene fighting to contain the blaze. An estimated 1.5 million gallons of water was pumped, and 428.5 gallons of diesel fuel was used in the 50 hours and 36 minutes the fire department was present at the scene. Thankfully no fatalities were incurred, and the only reported injuries were two firefighters (both treated and released).

In spite of the loss felt by the Village that day, we were also reminded why Garrettsville is a great place to live. The outpouring of support to not only the Village itself, but to the firefighters was remarkable. The influx of water and food was staggering, and none of it went to waste as firefighters worked around the clock. It is truly impossible to thank each and every one of the individuals and organizations that contributed to relief efforts that day, but thanks go out to …. the 34 fire departments that answered our call for aid, Community EMS and NEAS for providing EMS support, Garrettsville Police for traffic and scene control, Garrettsville Water Department who monitored our village water usage, local businesses who sent food and drinks, residents who stopped by the station to drop supplies off, the ladies who came out to distribute food and drinks, Portage County EMA & FlU, Portage County Sheriffs Office, Ohio Fire Marshall, ATF, Red Cross, Salvation Army, right down to the gentlemen who lent a hand pulling hose before more firefighters arrived in the first minutes of the fire.

Special thanks to the local students who sent us letters and artwork from school the week after the fire, it brightened our day to hear how much you love Garrettsville. All of this was a reflection of what a great village we live in, and why Garrettsville is strong. I wish the community well as we heaL rebuild, and move forward after this devastating fire.

Chief David Friess
Garrettsville-Freedom-Nelson Joint Fire District