A fire that damaged roughly half of a block of buildings in downtown Bainbridge early Tuesday is under investigation by the State Fire Marshal’s Office.
Kelly Stincer, a public information officer with the State Fire Marshal’s Office, said the Bainbridge Volunteer Fire Department responded to a call reporting the Main Street fire at 2:18 a.m. She said the fire caused damage to roughly half of a city block and four buildings, plus external damage to the mayor’s office.
She said that as of around noon Tuesday, the fire scene was still too hot for investigators to enter.
There were no fatalities or injuries, Stincer said, and as of Tuesday afternoon the Fire Marshal’s Office had no idea where the fire originated.
Stincer said that other than the mayor’s office, she did not know what buildings were damaged or what they housed.
A total of 10 fire departments from three counties responded to the fire, Stincer said.
U.S. Route 50 and SR 41 were blocked to traffic in Bainbridge during the fire and remained closed through early Tuesday afternoon.
Bainbridge Fire Chief John Kemme declined comment and directed all questions to the State Fire Marshal’s Office.
Ross County Sheriff George Lavender said it is suspected that the fire originated in a building at Newman’s Used Cars and spread to an 1800s brick building. The brick building was empty except for a few apartments in its norther corner, officials said, according to the Chillicothe Gazette. The newspaper also reported that the building was next to the Village of Bainbridge administrative offices.
WBNS News reported that one of buildings housed a repair shop and another housed apartments and village administrative offices, including the water department.
A large portion of the 1800s building collapsed onto several vehicles in a nearby parking lot.
Cherry Miller, a longtime Bainbridge resident who lives not far from the fire scene, said that at one time the 1800s building housed the Bainbridge Masonic and Eastern Star lodges on its upper floors and that there was a Masonic marker on the front of the building. She said the Bainbridge Historical Society had at one time owned part of the building, but that all those organizations had since moved elsewhere.
“It was probably the oldest building that was left in downtown,” Miller said.
She said that the location of another of the damaged structures used to be the site of a BP Station that was currently the site of Newman’s Used Cars.
She said she could not provide more details because she did not witness the fire.
Reach Jeff Gilliland at 937-402-2522 or [email protected]