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Fire rips through building

COAL GROVE — Donna Malone sat huddled on a kitchen chair in front of what was once her home after an early morning fire gutted part of the structure that housed the Corner Diner and several upstairs apartments.

Covered in a blanket with soot caking her face, she waited as fire crews worked on pulling out what could be salvaged from the building on Marion Pike.

Malone left the scene before being asked for comment by the media. The Red Cross is assisting her and other residents needing shelter.

Coal Grove Volunteer Fire Department got the call about five minutes before 4 this morning, said Fire Chief Gary Sherman. When crews arrived, they found the upstairs of the building fully engulfed.

“Fire was blowing out of the front window and the attic,” Sherman said.

Firefighters first determined that all of the seven adults and two children were out of the building that also housed five upstairs apartments and Hapney’s Barber Shop, downstairs adjacent to the restaurant.

Apparently the fire was ignited by a candle burning in Malone’s front apartment, Sherman said.

Either wind blew a curtain into the candle flame or a cat in the apartment knocked the candle into the drapery, said Sherman who labeled it an accidental fire.

Despite current water line issues in the village, firefighters weren’t hampered by any lack of water or the frigid weather. Currently there are on-going upgrades of the water system that have caused parts of the village to be without water from time to time and a three-day leak in the system whose origin can’t be discovered.

Because of those problems, Sherman called in the tanker task force. However, those crews were not needed.

“There was no water problem and very little smoke damage to the other apartments,” Sherman said.

However Malone’s apartment is gutted and the Corner Diner below has significant water damage.

“The building as a whole is repairable,” Sherman said.

Assisting Coal Grove were units from Upper Township, Lawrence Township and Fayette Township with Decatur on standby.