Fire Investigators Probing Cause of Fire at Ohio University

Firefighters say much of the credit goes to Athens police, as it was officers who were able to wake people living upstairs and hustle them to the roof where they could be rescued by firefighters, reports

Fire investigators spent Monday morning studying the charred remains of a fire that destroyed five buildings — including Jackie O’s public house — where employees say they’re just glad everyone made it out alive. “That’s unbelievable such a large fire and no one was hurt,” said brewer Clark Benson.

It took six fire departments nearly six hours to bring the fire under control and stop the flames before they reached the Union Street Market.  Manager Eric Heck says his heart goes out to his neighbors. “It’s just sadness. It’s like some of the buildings are completely gone and the people that lived above them; what are they going to do?”

The Athens fire chief says smoke detectors woke some people living upstairs. Police officers raced to alert others, who scrambled to the roof and waited for volunteer firefighters to rescue them with a ladder truck. 

Ohio University is helping at least 30 students find new housing, as investigators search for the cause. It’s not clear whether the fire caused serious structural damage to the buildings, but employees say they hope businesses will rebuild.  Firefighters say the first call for help suggested the fire started in the alley behind a row of businesses. The fire marshal is investigating the cause. 

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