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Garrettsville's top fire official said Tuesday his best guess on the damages from Saturday's massive fire in the village's downtown is that they could reach as high as $5 million.
Chief Dave Friess of the Garrettsville-Freedom-Nelson Fire District said fire investigators and insurance company investigators still are working on determining the losses in Saturday's blaze, but said it will be significant.
"My guesstimate ... is $5 million," he said, based on the value of the buildings and their contents
Thirteen businesses were destroyed or displaced in the fire, which started on Main Street just after 1 p.m. Saturday and eventually resulted in a response from 34 fire departments from four counties. Two firefighters suffered smoke inhalation and were successfully treated and are recovering, but no bystanders were injured.
Fully one-quarter of the village's historic downtown, including the nearly 160-year-old Buckeye Building, was destroyed as hundreds of spectators watched firefighters work. The age of the buildings and their construction contributed to the speed with which the fire spread, Friess said Sunday.
Friess said the village "never ran out of water," though some in the community may have experience low water pressure during and after the blaze.
"If it had (run out of water), we would have issued a boil alert," he said. "We brought in tankers to preserve the village's water supply."
Firefighters kept watch for "hot spots" in the rubble and finally cleared the scene just before 4 p.m. Monday, Friess said.
The time schedule for demolition of rubble depends on the insurance companies and their investigation, he said. Workers fenced in the affected area on Monday, and insurance likely will pay for removal of the rubble once investigators are done sifting through it, he said.
The Portage County Fire Investigation Team, State Fire Marshal and ATF are assisting in the investigation into the cause of the fire.
Friess said department personnel are now washing out hoses, putting their trucks back in service and making repairs to broken or damaged equipment.
"This was obviously out of the ordinary for us," he said.
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