ADAMSVILLE — “Nobody was hurt, which is pretty amazing for the amount of (fire) departments here,” said Kim Brenizer, owner of Uncle Meatballs restaurant.
Uncle Meatballs, six apartments, a ceramics shop and the Post Office were destroyed in a blaze Wednesday night that claimed two buildings and was battled by fire departments from four counties and two states. Firefighters were at the scene until early Thursday morning, and some were called back Thursday as the remains of the buildings rekindled twice.
Flames were already through the roof of the building housing the Post Office when firefighters arrived at the scene at approximately 8:30 p.m. Wednesday, according Fallowfield Fire and Rescue Chief Adam Valesky. Valesky gave an estimate of approximately $500,000 damage to the two structures.
“We lost a lot of building to fire — but the main thing was everyone went home safe,” Valesky said.
Valesky said high winds from the south pushed the fire the entire length of the two side-by-side Main Street structures. The Uncle Meatballs building was built in the 1800s and has had several additions, he said.
Valesky said the cause of the fire was unknown but it appeared the fire began in the post office building.
A Pennsylvania State Police fire marshal had been on the fire scene Wednesday night. The fire marshal left the scene early Thursday morning and returned at noon but the remains of the building were too hot for him to conduct an investigation, Valesky said. The fire marshal expects to complete his investigation today.
Firefighters were able to save a garage and the Garvin Industries building next door to Uncle Meatballs. The former Garvin Industries manufactured metal stampings and miscellaneous other metal objects.
A postal inspector and a post office operations manager were on the scene to ensure the 19 post office boxholders and 120 rural delivery customers were being take care of.
“We do have a sense of continuity, we will get everything delivered today,” said Larry McClain, post office operations manager.
Adamsville’s mail is being shipped three miles north on Route 18 to the Hartstown post office.
McClain said the fire department used a chain to pull the post office safe out of the back of the building. There had been some concern about the safe falling through the floor, according to McClain. After the safe was cut open, some of the contents such as stamps and papers were salvaged, according to McClain.
Brenizer owned the building which housed Uncle Meatballs and three apartments. Matthew Greleski of Hartstown owned the building with the post office, ceramic shop and three more apartments. Brenizer had owned her building for a year and a half, Greleski had owned his building since November 2014. Attempts by the Tribune to reach Greleski were unsuccessful.
Of the three apartments in Brenizer’s building, two were occupied. The third apartment was scheduled for tenants to move in next month.
Brenizer’s building was insured, but she said she had recently lowered the policy due to it being closed for renovations. Brenizer was unsure of whether Uncle Meatballs would rebuild or not.
“We haven’t even thought that far,” Brenizer said.
Crawford County Emergency Management Agency Director Allen Clark said the American Red Cross gave assistance to five adults and four children who lived in the apartments. The tenants are now housed in hotels, Clark said.
Firefighting units responded to the call at approximately 8:30 p.m. Wednesday and fought the blaze until 4 a.m. on Thursday. The fire rekindled at 6 a.m. and 9 a.m. on Thursday, with elements of Fallowfield Fire and Rescue extinguishing the flare-ups.
Fallowfield Fire and Rescue was assisted at the scene by Conneaut Lake, Conneaut Lake Park, Summit, Vernon Central, North Shenango, Linesville, Greenwood, Conneautville, Hayfield, West Mead 2, Cochranton and Springboro volunteer fire departments in Crawford County.
Mercer County fire departments assisting were Jamestown, Hempfield, Sheakleyville, West Salem and Sandy Lake. Albion and Cranesville volunteer fire departments from Erie County also aided at the fire scene. Utica Volunteer Fire Department from Venango County also helped out.
Ohio fire departments helping were Andover and Monroe Township. Meadville Central Fire Department and Meadville Area Ambulance Service were on standby.
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