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Fire damages Belpre building, injures three

The building housing the Bennett Tax Service offices in Belpre was damaged by a fire early Sunday morning. Fire broke out in the building due to a short in a space heater. A firefighter and an occupant of a back apartment were sent to the hospital as a result. A member of the Belpre VFD’s Women’s Auxiliary broke her arm while on the scene outside and was also sent to the hospital. (Photo by Jenna Pierson)

BELPRE — The building housing the Bennett Tax Service offices in Belpre was damaged by a fire early Sunday morning that resulted in three people being sent to the hospital.

The call came at 1:15 a.m. Sunday for the building at 230 Washington Blvd., said Belpre Volunteer Fire Chief Tony Cronin.

When crews arrived on the scene flames were coming out of the side and back doors, the chief said.

The fire originated in a back apartment where a heater caught on fire which ignited a mattress and then the back of the building, he said.

Firefighters did both external and interior attacks on the fire. At one point, the ceiling collapsed and one firefighter had to be sent to the hospital with possible head and neck injuries. Cronin said that person was treated and released from the hospital the same day.

The building at 230 Washington Blvd. in Belpre was damaged in a Sunday morning fire. The fire was being ruled as an accidental electrical fire from a space heater shorting out. (Photo by Jenna Pierson)

One occupant of the apartment also had to be sent to the hospital to be treated for smoke inhalation. That person was also treated and released the same day, the chief said.

A member of the department’s Women’s Auxiliary was outside helping with other efforts when she fell into a hole and broke her arm. She was also sent to the hospital to be treated.

The names of the people injured were not being released at this time, the chief said.

The Belpre VFD responded with one aerial truck, one pumper, one rescue vehicle, one squad vehicle, one command vehicle and 12 firefighters. Little Hocking VFD and Blennerhassett VFD also responded with mutual aid. Blennerhassett sent one truck and five firefighters. Little Hocking sent two engines, one squad vehicle and 13 firefighters.

Cronin said they had the fire under control within 45 minutes to an hour of crews arriving. Crews cleared the scene at 5:13 a.m. Sunday.

Visible damage was seen outside the Bennett Tax Service offices in Belpre after an early morning fire on Sunday. Fire officials said flames were visible coming out of the door when crews arrived early Sunday morning after the call came in at 1:15 a.m. Sunday. (Photo by Jenna Pierson)

A damage estimate was not available Monday. Cronin said the fire was being ruled as an accidental electrical fire from a space heater shorting out.

Officials with Bennett Tax Service could not be reached Monday for comment.

The Cutler Candle Company is also in the building. Business representatives could also not be reached Monday for comment. However the company did address the fire in a couple of Facebook posts on their business Facebook page. Cutler representatives said the fire did not originate in their store. They will will try to keep everyone updated as they assess the damage.

“We would like to sincerely thank Belpre Volunteer Fire Department, Little Hocking Fire and Rescue, Blennerhassett Volunteer Fire Department … for your tremendous effort,” one post said. “You guys & girls were awesome. We really appreciate you…We love our Community!!!”

Brett Dunlap can be reached at bdunlap@newsandsentinel.com

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