Photo taken of the fires that ravaged Downtown Garrettsville and resulted in the destruction of an esitmated dozen businesses.
Drive east on 224 long enough from most parts of the state and eventually you’ll hit a small community in Portage County by the name of Garrettsville. The village is small, unassuming, and characteristic of an America we can only readily find in magazines or photographs anymore. The pace of living is relaxed, the demeanors of residents are open, friendly, and inviting, and the town boasts scenic natural and architectural splendors. It’s the type of town that might quiet down to hear the sound of crickets on a summer evening but rush to the assistance of those in need when crisis unfolds.
Unfortunately, this past Saturday, March 22, crisis did, indeed, unfold. The section of town known as Main St., a one-block stretch of businesses that sit along OH-82, burned to the ground. Thirty-four area fire departments responded to the scene of the fire but were unable to contain the blaze, which ultimately destroyed several of the buildings, including original structures erected at the time of the town’s inception. The village was incorporated officially in 1803, the same year Ohio was incorporated into the U.S. Federal Union.
Among the buildings destroyed include Miller’s Lawn & Garden, New Hearing, Chic and Shabby, Shaker Tree, T&B Tools, Shiffer Clock Repair, Dann Timmons, One Reach Peach, and the Garrettsville Community Cupboard. Businesses on the opposite side of the street appear to be largely unaffected. Fire fighters have yet to determine a cause for the blaze, but already community members are pulling together to support those affected. As Garrettsville-native Jacob Vaughan put it, “I cannot speak for Garrettsville, but I am sure it will bounce back!”
Vaughn, 20, who was downtown at the time the fire began, said he could see smoke rising from the historic district. The Hiram Fire Dept. was soon on the scene and the battle to save the buildings ensued. The blaze burned for nearly four hours. One of the buildings that burned to the ground was a local woods and cabinetry shop, which only served to fuel the flames once the initial blaze began. First reports of the fire started around 1:15pm Saturday afternoon. Firefighters finally contained and subdued the blaze closer to 5:00pm.
The community, though small, already shows the resolve Ohio towns across the state employ when facing adversity. Groups like The Weekly Villager, Garrettsville’s news publication, will be accepting donations to the Community Cupboard, which was destroyed by the fire, beginning 9:00am Monday, March 24. The home offices for the paper sit at 8808 Main St.
We will be collecting monetary donations and any goods people can spare in the next couple of weeks to provide aid and relief. Contact us by personal message or send an email to Chad at firstname.lastname@example.org for more details on how to donate.
The Historic Downtown district as many will remember it, shown here during last year's annual Summerfest Event held at the end of June.