MOUNT VERNON — A fire that started in the basement of downtown Mount Vernon building will soon result in an empty corner at Main and Gambier streets.
The fire, which consumed the building at 201 S. Main St., home to Bodi N Balance and the Divine Institute of Metaphysical Behavior, was called in at 6:35 a.m. Firefighters were on the scene three minutes later, according to Mount Vernon Fire Department Assistant Fire Chief Chris Menapace. “The situation is contained, and overhaul is in progress,” said Menapace in an interview at 3:30 this afternoon.
Menapace did confirm the building would have to be demolished but no date was given as to when.
“The fire started in the basement,” said Menapace when asked about the fire’s origin. As far as reports of chemicals located in the basement of the facility, Menapace was quick to quiet those rumors.
“About chemicals in the basement, you guys have heard about some crazy flammable stuff, but it’s just not true. There was no chemical problem,” Menapace said.
One problem Menapace did report was that of a broken gas line. “A gas line had ruptured and was feeding the fire, but the gas company came out and shut it off preventing any further danger; but, there was no explosion,” said Menapace.
With smoke billowing from the structure, as the fire consumed the building, concern was placed on containing the fire to keep it from spreading to Mount Vernon Nazarene University’s Buchwald Center to the south. “We’ve stopped extension. There is zero fire extension into the Nazarene college. That was our primary focus,” said Menapace.
As firefighters were still unable to enter the building at 2 p.m., Menapace explained how they were able to keep the fire contained to the one structure, using the wind to their advantage. “We cut a hole in the skylight and pressurized the [Buchwald Center]. This helped us contain the flames and prevent them from spreading,” said Menapace.
In explaining the damage to the structure, the building was “a total loss,” according to Menapace. “We’ve had total roof collapse on the third floor and about 20 percent of the roof left intact. There is no more fire in the basement, no fire in the first floor, and the second floor is clear. We have working fire in the very top of the third floor. As soon as that burns off, we’ll be able to deploy the rest of the master streams and extinguish the fire. With where it is right now, we can’t get to it. We’re just going to let the fire come to us and put it out.”
Structural damage to the adjoining Buchwald Center was averted, according to Menapace. “There is smoke damage and water in the basement,” said Menapace. “You’ll have water running down some walls and smoke damage, but no heat damage. I imagine their classes should resume in about a week.”
Menapace stated that one fireman suffered heat exhaustion symptoms, was treated and released and was resting at the station.
In addressing questions about water issues, “There were no water issues,” said Menapace. “We were very methodical in using the grid to our advantage. We were pulling from different 12-inch lines so we did not have to rob Peter to pay Paul.”
Around 60 firefighters battled the blaze with 15 apparatuses on the scene from numerous area departments. “The Red Cross has been spectacular,” said Menapace. “Area business were bringing out food for the firefighters; they have always been supportive.” He expected for crews to able to enter the building around 5 p.m. today.
“Once the black smoke is contained, we’ll start placing men as safely as possible. The (Ohio) State Fire Marshal will assist us and help us out. “We’re getting ready to transition into investigation,” said Menapace.
Building owner John Montenery received word on the blaze early Monday and was on the scene for a portion of the day. “We really don’t know any more than what we’re being told. It supposedly started in the basement, but we’re not sure what caused it,” said Montenery. “I haven’t heard anything from the insurance company. I’m just glad nobody is hurt. My biggest concern right now is all the downtown businesses who now have all this smoke inside. We’re not sure what we’ll do yet. We’ll just take it day to day.”
Bodi N Balance owner Trevor Tieche told the News he received a phone call this morning telling him about the fire.
“It was literally a whirlwind after I got the call” said Tieche.
When the building was inspected two months ago by the MVFD, Tieche said his “lease space passed with flying colors.”
Tieche said he was not sure what will happen to the business at this point.
“This has really been a shock for me. My biggest question is what do I need to do, because this has never happened to me before,” he said.
The business recently expanded with the opening of Brutal Intentions Mixed Marital Arts Academy, Tieche said.
Members of Bodi N Balance have been offered a 30-day membership to the Mount Vernon YMCA, executive director Nick Clark told the News this afternoon. Members in good standing must show their Bodi N Balance membership card to YMCA staff who will assist them in the use of the facility.