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Fire Diminishes Ambiance of Grandview

Investigators continue to look for the cause of last week's devastating fire in the center of Grandview. The blaze destroyed a block of buildings and left business owners scrambling to find new homes.

Saturday's fire not only gutted about two dozen small shops and businesses, it destroyed part of the charm of Grandview.

"You know it was like a little, small hometown atmosphere. And now it's gone," says John Green.

Green's florist shop is across the street from the damage. He called 9-1-1 when he saw the flames last weekend.

Days later, insurance adjusters wearing hardhats were still working their way through the rubble of the building.

Much of what wasn't destroyed in the fire was ruined by water from fire hoses. One of the businesses, Grandview Avenue Physical Therapy is run by chiropractor Kevin Kerchansky.

"Right now it's pretty bad," Kerchansky says. "They're not letting us in until we get hardhats. But pretty much everything's destroyed and we lost all of our equipment and the ceilings are pretty much gone and it's dripping all over the place because the ice is melting because of all the water they used to put it out. I haven't seen anything like this before, that's for sure."

Other businesses that were damaged or destroyed include Accent on Nature, the Candle Lab and a hair salon.Neighbors, including Doug Golding, still gaze at the destruction from the sidewalk across the street.

"It's really, you know, it's devastating," Golding says. "The charm of Grandview is the Grandview Avenue strip and it's a huge chunk of the atmosphere here. It's very sad."

Heartbreaking is the way Mike Wagenbrenner describes it. He and his brother Tom have owned the property since 1984.

"Believe me this has been our life work that went into this and I'll tell ya, when we got that call on Saturday morning I was so depressed but my heart really poured out for the tenants who are really the victims of this," says Mike Wagenbrenner.

"But we're going to try to get it back on its feet just as soon as possible and hope that we can do that in short order but it looks like it's going to be a year or more," says Tom Wagenbrenner. "But I'm sure that all of us here in Grandview are going to be suffering for what happened here."

The Columbus fire department estimates damage at $3 million. Spokesman Doug Smith says investigators have sent material to a lab for examination but as it stands right now, Smith says, the fire was probably accidental.

The Wagenbrenners say that if the building is condemned it will be razed and replaced in about a year's time. John Green, the florist, worries about what the loss of the businesses across the street will mean for the shops that remain.

"I know it's going to take a while and with the economy everybody's already suffering so a year I hope we can all hang on."