Ohio Mayor Says Fire Was Devastating But Town Will Rebound

April 16, 2007

A fire in Wauseon, Ohio, that may have started in a restaurant destroyed several nearby buildings and businesses early on April 14, burning most of a downtown block in the heart of this northwest Ohio community.

Mayor Jerry Dehnbostel said most of the buildings that were destroyed were more than 100 years old. Two firefighters suffered minor injuries fighting the blaze.

“We don’t know yet what the cause was,” Dehnbostel said. “They think right now it started in Doc Holliday’s, a restaurant, and spread one building south and three buildings to the north.

“The only reason it didn’t keep going south was there was a firewall in one of the buildings.”

Dehnbostel said there was no estimate of damage, but that the replacement value would be in the millions of dollars.

The state fire marshal’s office was investigating the blaze, he said.

More than a dozen fire departments helped fight the fire that destroyed the restaurant, a real estate office, computer shop, clothing store, health food store, photo studio and a small church that served members of the Hispanic community, the mayor said.

“It’s devastating. It’s leaving a huge void businesswise and buildingwise,” Dehnbostel said.

But he said plans already were being formed to explore grants available for rebuilding, and that residents in the town of about 7,400 wouldn’t let the scarred block blight the area.

“We will not allow that to happen,” Dehnbostel said. “More than 150 years ago, some people built a town here, and we can rebuild.”

The owner of one corner building watched as his property burned to the ground.

“There’s already talk before the smoke even clears of rebuilding and seeing what we can put in this lot downtown,” building owner Dan Ross said.

Wauseon is about 30 miles west of Toledo.

Information from: WTOL-TV, http://www.wtol.com

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