YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio (WKBN) – At least three vacant buildings are a complete loss following a fire early Sunday morning in Youngstown’s uptown area.
Crews were called about 2:30 a.m. to the area of Market Street and Indianola Avenue where a group of three vacant businesses at the Heck Building caught fire. Flames were still shooting into the sky more than seven hours after the first alarm sounded.
The fire started in the back of one of the buildings and quickly spread. The Youngstown Fire Department was on the scene all night and continued to hit hot spots throughout the morning. One of the challenges they faced was the age of the building.
“Actually we wanted it to break through the roof for us so we could get to the fire. That wasn’t happening because it was an older building, and it was really tough to get it to break through,” said Youngstown Fire Chief John O’Neill.
Firefighters tried several ways to battle the fire that started in a middle building and threatened to consume structures on either side. Crews went inside the structure but Chief O’Neill soon ordered everyone out.
“We had some pretty bad floor conditions. They were sagging and soft, we had to pull the crews out and establish those cutoffs to keep it from passing along to other buildings,” O’Neill said.
Firefighters saved the buildings on the far ends. And the flames were contained just one building away from the Uptown Theater.
At times, heavy smoke took over the block, forcing cars to turn around.
“Youngstown police helped us right off the bat to get these roads blocked off and then for longer term, we got the street department to put up barricades and use our trucks,” O’Neill said. “That was a little challenge. We got hoses going everywhere.”
Daniel McBride lives a few blocks away and watched as crews worked to put the fire out. He also brought the firefighters water.
McBride said he is saddened at the destruction the fire left in its wake.
“We’re trying to build up and now this major stuff right here is happening. It is going to be kind of sad,’ McBride said.
No injuries were reported. O’Neill estimated the damage to the building at $250,000 but did not immediately know what caused the fire.