A fire that destroyed four buildings in the overnight hours Tuesday in Bainbridge has been ruled “a human act,” according to several news outlets.
The State Fire Marshal, in a statement released Friday, said the cause of the fire in the 100 block of Main Street was “a human act,” but did not elaborate, according to the Chillicothe Gazette.
Kelly Stincer, a public information officer with the State Fire Marshal’s Office, did not return The Times-Gazette’s calls to her office Friday.
However, a reward of up to $5,000 is being offered by the Blue Ribbon Arson Committee for information leading to the arrest and conviction of the person or persons responsible for the fire, news outlets reported.
Stincer said earlier in the week that the Bainbridge Volunteer Fire Department responded to call reporting the fire at 2:18 a.m. Tuesday.
An earlier news release from the State Fire Marshal’s Office said that four structures involved in the fire are total losses, including apartment units, businesses and a car sales lot. The village administration building, including the mayor’s office, sustained exterior damage. Some residential units were occupied at the time of the fire, but all the residents escaped safely.
The main structure destroyed was an 1800s building that at one time housed the local Masonic and Eastern Star lodges and had a Masonic symbol on the front of it, local residents said.
One resident said it may have been the oldest building still standing in the downtown Bainbridge area.
Several vehicles in a parking lot adjacent to the building were crushed by bricks that fell when a wall on the east side of the building collapsed.
Eleven fire departments from four counties responded to the fire, which took nearly three hours to control. Firefighters were called back to the structure twice after the fire rekindled. The origin and cause of the fire are under investigation through the State Fire Marshal’s office in conjunction with the Ross County Sheriff’s Office, according to the news release.
Investigators will be in the area locating additional witnesses and conducting interviews. Anyone with information related to the fire is encouraged to call the State Fire Marshal’s office at 800-589-2728 or the Ross County Sheriff’s Office at 740-773-1185.
Crews took down the remainder of the 1880s building Thursday and U.S. Route 50, which had been closed since Tuesday, was reopened. After part of the building collapsed, the road was closed for fear that the remainder could fall into the street, the Chillicothe Gazette reported.
Reach Jeff Gilliland at 937-402-2522 or firstname.lastname@example.org.