GARRETTSVILLE, Ohio — A massive fire destroyed nearly a third — or one block — of the historic businesses and buildings in downtown Garrettsville Saturday.
Approximately 13 businesses burned down in the fire, which was reported around 1:15 p.m.
“It’s devastating,” said Fire Chief David Friess. “It’s devastating.”
Nearly 34 departments responded for mutual aid, some trucking in water after the village ran out.
Dozens gathered in the area to watch as firefighters fought the blaze. Flames were still showing as of 5:30 p.m.
“It’s just sad,” said Chris Gerez, owner of the Weekly Villager. “You just walk around, people with tears in their eyes.”
Gerez said among the businesses destroyed were a used furniture shop, a craft shop, a clock repair business, a podiatrist and two attorney’s offices.
A food bank was also among the facilities lost: Nelson Garrettsville Community Cupboard.
“We’ve been in business for two years,” said the bank’s Joe Leonard. “We moved here last November. It’s gone. There’s nothing left of that.”
Firefighters were battling the blaze from the ground and from above using ladders.
One Windham firefighter was taken to the hospital for smoke inhalation. There were no other injuries reported.
Several residents reported having no power or water.
The fire is under investigation by the Portage County Fire Investigation Unit and the State Fire Marshal’s Office.
Lorrie Weingart’s brother had a business destroyed in the blaze.
“This is my brother and my sister-in-laws’ livelihood, and they worked so hard to have a nice business here in this small town, and it’s just a shame to lose everything you have,” she said.
Gerez said it will be a lot for the town to overcome.
“This community is amazing,” he said. “Everyone always comes together and helps everybody. I think we’ll be OK in the long run. I really do. But right now it’s just so devastating.”
**CLICK the video below to watch a viewer-submitted video of one of the buildings involved in the fire collapsing**
Read what residents are saying about the blaze on social media: