SHELBY – The scent of smoke blanketed downtown Shelby after a large structural fire broke out on East Main Street during the early hours of Thursday morning.
If not for the response by the Shelby Fire Department and surrounding mutual aid, Shelby Fire Department Chief Mike Thompson feared a whole city block may have burned.
“The responding crew did one heck of a job,” Thompson said. “I wasn’t so sure we weren’t going to lose a whole city block there for a while.”
Details of the fire
Thompson said a crew was dispatched around 2 a.m. Thursday in response to a reported building fire, originally thought to be burning at the Shelby Fraternal Order of Eagles building, 46 E. Main St.
Upon arrival, it was determined the fire was impacting a commercial property at 50/52 E. Main St., next door to the Eagles building.
“Crews arrived on scene and found a working fire with heavy conditions,” Thompson said. “It was a tremendous amount of fire, and they held it pretty much to one building.”
The impacted property is owned by Charles Warfel, according to the Richland County Auditor website.
Thompson said Warfel lives at the property with one additional resident, and neither were in the building when the flames broke out.
“The building experienced total loss, the interior collapsed,” Thompson said. “The roof and second floor are on the first floor.”
Additionally, several kittens, a turtle and some fish were lost during the fire, he said.
The cause of the fire remains undetermined, Thompson said, who noted the building lacked a sprinkler system.
“It’s an old building with a lot of lumber, a heavy fuel load, and tall ceilings,” he said.
Damage to neighboring businesses
The Eagles building sustained roof and water damage, and firefighters needed to breach through the window of 54 E. Main St., currently owned by Adam Thornton, a local real estate agent.
Thornton said no businesses currently operate out of his property, but he’s hoping to bring two new businesses to the building before the end of the year.
“We don’t have any structural, fire, or water damage,” Thornton said. “I’d rather them break a window to make sure I don’t have any fire in there. They (firefighters) did an awesome job.”
Gallery: East Main Street damage
Thompson applauds on duty crew and mutual aid
No injuries were sustained amongst all responding fire departments, Thompson said.
“That’s our number one goal,” he said. “That everyone goes home in the way they showed up.”
The Shiloh Fire Department responded as automatic mutual aid and was joined by the Springfield Township and Madison Township fire departments, Thompson said.
“I’d like to thank the duty crew and mutual aid for one heck of a job,” he said. “Shiloh brings a lot of people, and they’re good, so they do a good job.”
Due to the current state of the building, stacks of debris, and wires exposed to standing water, the blaze was still being fought by the Shelby Fire Department as of 10:30 a.m. Thursday.
“Manual labor is the only way we’ll get it put out,” Thompson said. “We’ve got it down where there’s just one truck and three guys there, so it should be okay.”
Several community members walked the sidewalks of Main Street Thursday morning looking on at the damage, now more visible as the sun shined down.
“Compared to thinking we were going to lose the whole block, we did well,” Thompson said.