Fire Damages Historic Parma Theater

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PARMA, Ohio -- Fire struck a decades-old movie theater in Parma, just as a citizens group was moving forward with plans to save it. 

The Parma Fire Department said on Saturday that the damage amount is estimated to be over $750,000.

A woman working next door to the theater heard crackling sounds and smelled smoke late Friday afternoon.  

Parma firefighters were able to contain the fire quickly but report heavy smoke damage to the lobby area and to two buildings next door.

Building co-owner Robert Hellriegel said, "The smoke damage looks really bad and I have two tenants that help pay the property tax, and if I lose those, oh." 

The theater closed on Labor Day, unable to afford the upgrades needed to keep it profitable.  It had been a Parma landmark since the 1930s.

A citizens group is hoping to get a non-profit agency to buy the building and convert the movie house into a community theater, or anything that would keep it alive.  

Paulette Kall is with a group called "Friends of the Parma Theater." 

She said, "Oh, it is a part of history.  It has been here since 1930-something. And you just hate to see these old buildings go."

She is not giving up saving the theater, since it need to be gutted for renovations anyway.

The cause of the fire remains under investigation.

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