COLUMBUS GROVE — Friday night’s fire in downtown Columbus Grove is reminiscent of the June 29, 2012, derecho that struck the village, tearing down the facade of a business right across the street from 101 N. High Street.
“The storm severely damaged one of the buildings in the square,” said Ken Wright, Columbus Grove mayor.
The business, “Christie’s on Main” and several apartments on the upper floors were gone.
“As it turned out, the owner of the building and the business that was there decided not to rebuild. It just didn’t make good economic sense for them,” Wright said.
The building was torn down and the land turned into a park.
It’s too early to tell what will happen to the four buildings that were destroyed by Friday’s fire.
“In speaking with the owner, they’re not even sure what’s going on because they’re still waiting on insurance adjusters. Until they can find out what they can do and know how the economics are going to work out for them, I don’t know. I can’t really say a whole lot,” Wright said.
Fighting a large fire, like the one Friday night in the downtown area, was an experience few had on the Columbus Grove Fire Department.
“Nobody’s ever seen anything like this in our town. It’s opened a lot of the new guy’s eyes,” said Columbus Grove Fire Chief Bob Brubaker.
An official cause of the fire hasn’t yet been announced, but it’s believed it started in a bathroom light/fan fixture.
“I think it’s leaning towards that —electric. I’m not going to pinpoint it. I’ll leave it to the guys that do their professional work,” Brubaker said.
The owner of Pizza 101, Todd Hoffman, has been meeting with insurance adjusters this week.
“We’ve got a couple of days here in a row where we’re going to try to get some people in to look at the building. We’re trying to do an inventory of everything,” Hoffman said.
One concern is the building he also owns, adjacent to Pizza 101. It was the scene of a previous fire and Hoffman bought it with the intention of renovating it and expanding the pizza restaurant into that space.
Brubaker believes it will have to be torn down.
“If I was a betting man, I would say probably because of the way the wall is and part of the roof tore up a bit, so I would say yes, it’s probably going to come down,” Brubaker said.
Mayor Wright indicated that if the building is torn down, it might actually help the situation downtown.
“His second building coming down will actually help facilitate the rebuilding of that area because it will square things up,” Wright said.
Hoffman is hoping to do something to help his employees.
“My wife and I are still thinking about having a Christmas party for them and thanking them,” Hoffman said.
A GoFundMe website has been set up to bring in donations to help the businesses, Pizza 101, Heffner Printing, The Rowdy Rooster Cafe and Bloom Boutique. As of Tuesday afternoon, $23,000 had been raised towards the goal of $40,000.
Reach Sam Shriver at 567-242-0409.