SHARON — Fire trucks from five departments raced to the scene of a fire Thursday at a business in the Sharon’s main business district, where a small fire closed a block of East State Street for a couple hours.
Firefighters were called about 5:20 p.m. to a blaze in the basement of The Emerald Tablet alternative and holistic health service, 42-44 East State St., between Gilbert’s Risk Solutions and PNC Bank. Two people who were in the building at the time both got out safely, Sharon fire Chief Bob Fiscus said.
The fire’s location in the basement was difficult for firefighters to reach, as they tried accessing the basement through the building’s front and back doors. The average “preconnects” – hoses attached to the fire trucks – reach only about 150 feet, so Fiscus said firefighters had to bring in extra hoses to reach about 250 feet.
With buildings packed close together in Sharon’s downtown, the fire could have caused a catastrophe if it had been allowed to spread to adjoining structures, including the four-story Gilbert’s Risk Solutions, one of downtown Sharon’s tallest buildings. Eighty-five years ago next week, on April 21,1936, one of the city’s all-time biggest fires struck the same site extending to the Shenango River, including the Protected Home Circle fraternal insurance company along the river. The PHC building was replaced within a year by what is now the Gilbert’s building.
This fire’s damage was more limited. Firefighters kept Thursday’s small fire confined to the basement and extinguished the blaze “in a few minutes” once they were able to reach the scene with the hoses, Fiscus said.
The basement sustained some heat and flame damage, but otherwise the building’s main floor was mostly undamaged aside from a broken window and a damaged rear door from when firefighters entered the building.
Fiscus said the fire’s cause was still unknown Thursday evening and that two cats were unaccounted for.
Departments from Sharon, Hermitage, Farrell, Patagonia and Brookfield responded to the fire. McGonigle Ambulance Service was also at the scene. East State Street was closed to traffic from the State Street bridge to Vine Avenue while firefighters were on the scene.
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