The cause of the fire that destroyed Browse Awhile Books just hours after firefighters attacked a fire believed linked to faulty wiring may not be found because of the amount of damage, Tipp City Fire Chief Steve Kessler said late Tuesday, June 21
Firefighters were called late Monday, June 20, to 118 E. Main St. on a report of a fire in the upstairs/attic area.
Shortly after 5 a.m. Tuesday, they were called back on a report of heavy smoke and flames coming from the building.
Three people were trapped briefly inside, Kessler said. The apartment where the evening fire was located was vacated afterward, he said. The residents of both apartments were in the second apartment when the second fire was discovered, he said.
Help was called from West Milton, Vandalia and Casstown fire departments.
Three people were taken to the hospital for treatment – two were residents treated for smoke inhalation. The third was a firefighter who Kessler said had been ill a couple of days before the fire and was treated for dehydration.
Loss to the bookstore building was estimated by Kessler at $400,000 to the building and $200,000 to contents. The number could change based on the number of books store and building owner Bill Jones can salvage, he said.
Jones estimated loss to inventory could total more than $1 million.
Tenants who lived in two upstairs apartments lost everything to the fire in which a cat died.
Also damaged was the building next to Browse Awhile Book that houses Merchant31. Smoke and water damage was reported to that building though an estimate was not available.
The Sam & Ethel’s building on the other side of the book store building would be checked for damage including to its roof, said Heather Dorsten, director of the Downtown Tipp City Partnership.
She said building such as the 1871 one lost to the fire and a unique business such as the bookstore cannot be replaced.
“We are sad not only because of the economic development hit downtown. When it comes to the historical architecture of the building, we are all devastated for the loss,” Dorsten said.
The DTCP set up a GoFundMe page Tuesday for relief efforts to all affected by the fire, she said.
Kessler said construction in older buildings in downtowns including false ceilings and multiple roofs can complicate firefighting. “It was a tough fire to fight,” he said.