NEWTON FALLS - An early Saturday morning apartment fire at a very old West Broad Street building left several residents without homes and business owners making alternative arrangements to continue serving their customers and patients.
And, they may never know what caused the blaze because it so severely damaged the building that it may be unsafe for anyone to enter to investigate, a top fire official says.
The fire that broke out shortly after 4 a.m. in a second-floor rear apartment above Health Advocate Services and Healthy Treasures spread through other upstairs apartments, destroying three. Also damaged were the businesses below and a next door storefront that houses an insurance agency, which wasn't as badly damaged.
Crews battle a fire early Saturday at a West Broad Street building in Newton Falls. There were no injuries, but authorities could not get back into the building to determine the extent of structural damage.
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No one was injured, but it's believed some pets may have died in the fire.
Investigators, the building's owner and the business owners are not allowed inside the building until it's been deemed structurally sound. The fire caused a large support beam to bow and one of the building's walls was leaning, said village fire Chief Richard Bauman.
Traffic is prohibited from traveling on West Broad Street.
''If that building goes down, it will be in our lap,'' Bauman said.
Bauman said he would like to have a structural engineer look at the building early this week to determine how safe it is.
Roberta Wade, who lives in one of the apartments with her daughter, said she was woken by a neighbor yelling fire and scrambled to get outside. Wade first thought her daughter, Angel, was at home.
''That's when I panicked,'' she said, but later realized her daughter was at a friend's home.
Wade said she believed shelter was being provided at a nearby hotel.
Synthia Suzelis, owner of Health Advocate Services and Healthy Treasures, at the 38 W. Broad St. location since 1995, said because she cannot get inside, she's unsure about the extent of damage to her businesses, but believes it to be severe.
''They told us we may not even be allowed to walk in because it's so structurally unsound,'' said Suzelis, who employs 10 people between the two businesses.
Ted Suzelis said patients of the alternative health clinic likely will be directed to a second office in Boardman and alternative arrangements will be made with suppliers. Healthy Treasures is a health food and natural products store.
Crews from the Newton Falls Joint Fire District and Lordstown, Milton, Braceville, Garrettsville and Warren Township fire departments fought the blaze. The first crews arrived about 4:15 a.m. and left shortly before 2 p.m.
The building, built sometime in the 1800s, was damaged in the 1985 tornado that ripped through the center of Newton Falls. Owners repaired the damage then but could not be found for comment Saturday.
Residents are being helped with shelter by the American Red Cross.