YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio (WKBN) – A day after fire destroyed much of a block near the intersection of Market St. and Indianola Ave. in Youngstown, workers were busy digging Monday, trying to clean up the burned wood, brick work and other debris from four store fronts in the Uptown area of Youngstown.
Amazingly, just a few feet away, Jim Wilcox is back in business at his novelty shop Saint George and the Dragon.
“I was shocked. There’s no buildings next door, and a little dirt to clean up,” Wilcox said. “Something to vacuum, that’s about it. So, (I’m) pretty blessed.
At the height of the blaze, more than thirty firefighters were on the scene, working to keep the flames from getting to Wilcox’s store, as well as both the old closed Viking Lounge and the Uptown Theater at the other end of the block.
“Number one, it was the response of the Youngstown Fire Department,” Wilcox said. “And number two, they were saying the fire walls were just really well built. So I think that helped as well.”
Investigators said that physical evidence of a cause of the fire was most likely consumed by the blaze. In the meantime, the bill to cover overtime fighting the fire, and later cleaning it up with both city street department crews as well as a private contractor is growing.
“We intend to seek reimbursement for all those costs from the current owner of the property,” Youngstown Mayor John McNally said.
A New York-based firm known as ID Properties owns the four burned-out store fronts, while both the Uptown Theater and Viking were sold at a Sheriff’s sale earlier in 2015. McNally said he’d like to see the area filled in.
“At a minimum, we’ll then begin a process of greening that up, and we’ll probably look for some landscaping folks who have worked in that corridor before,” McNally said.
At this point, the cleanup work could take a couple weeks.
According to Youngstown Fire Chief John O’Neill, the blaze that broke out early Sunday morning in the back of one of the buildings was very difficult to control. Luckily, crews were able to contain the blaze before it spread to the entire block.
At least three vacant businesses are a complete loss following the fire, which broke out aroun 2:30 a.m. Sunday morning at the Heck Building. Flames were still shooting into the sky more than seven hours after the first alarm sounded.
O’Neill estimated the fire to have caused $250,000 in damage.