July 31, 2014

Elyria
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59°F
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Electric problem blamed for fire

Broad Street blaze caused at least $160K in damage

ELYRIA — An electrical malfunction is being blamed for a blaze in a downtown Elyria building that forced the occupants of seven apartments to find other places to stay.
As of Friday, only one of the 10 apartments in the building remained occupied. The others were so damaged by smoke and water that the residents who lived there — eight tenants in all — were forced to leave until the partments are repaired.
The Elyria Fire Department said the fire started in an apartment on the third floor of the building. It was blamed on an unknown electrical problem, and it spread to the east and north walls.
The fire damaged a gas furnace regulator, causing a free flow of natural gas into the apartment that likely led to an explosion that witnesses described hearing, the fire department said.
The fire department estimated the structural damage at $150,000, with another $10,000 in content damage.
There were three cats in the building, one of which was found alive, Assistant Fire Chief Robert Dempsey said.
“The regulars are quite shocked,” said Dennis Provenza, who owns the building and leases the property of Boomers bar and Zaki’s restaurant. “I was closing up my business on Cleveland Street when I got a phone call that my building was on fire.”
Provenza said it could take weeks before the fire and smoke damage are repaired and tenants can move back in.
Boomers was back in business in the early afternoon Friday, with a nearly full bar by 3 p.m. Contractors worked through the night Thursday, clearing out debris from the fire.
Zaki’s was open Friday, but it offered a limited menu because its gas remained off. Service was expected to be restored to the restaurant, bar and one livable apartment directly above Zaki’s as soon as possible.
Art Mead, a disaster relief worker for the Lorain County Red Cross, said the agency is providing assistance to the residents of three evacuated apartments. He is hoping more residents will seek out their help.
Mead said the Red Cross will provide hotel rooms and meal assistance for three to five days and will help pay the costs of moving into a new apartment.
Contact Ben Norris at 329-7119 or bnorris@chroniclet.com.

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The building owner shows off the fire damage at 310 Broad St.