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Source: Kokomo Tribune

Firefighters battle Turner Building blaze for hours

By Lauren Slagter

Kokomo firefighters are working to determine the cause of a fire that burned through three businesses in the Turner MFG Co. building on West Superior Street Wednesday.

Photo by
Tim Bath | Kokomo Tribune

Photo by
Tim Bath | Kokomo Tribune

Photo by
Tim Bath | Kokomo Tribune

Photo by
Tim Bath | Kokomo Tribune

The blaze broke out shortly before noon in the 400 block of West Superior Street, and it was about 2:30 p.m. before the flames were extinguished.

Fire Chief Nick Glover said the cause of the fire and the extent of the damage had not yet been determined Wednesday. Everyone evacuated the building when they discovered the flames.

Hearn Construction Inc., Kling’s Computers, City of 1st Glass, a space that formerly housed Cosmic Music Hall, and Crazy J’s Ice Cream occupy the Turner MFG Co. building, and Glover believes the fire started in a space between the ceiling and roof on the southwest corner of the building between Hearn Construction and Kling’s Computers. Steve Hearn owns the building.

“There’s a big void space up above, and we couldn’t get to it. So that’s why it burned so long,” Glover said, noting that firefighters worked for about 40 minutes trying to extinguish the flames from inside the building before
trying a different tactic. “It burned through the roof, so at that point we could get water inside.”

A two-hour fire wall between the shop area of City of 1st Glass and the former music hall prevented the flames from spreading further, he added.

Debbie Gottschall was at City of 1st Glass Wednesday when someone came over from Kling’s Computers next door and said they smelled something burning. Soon Gottschall – who is friends with the store owner Chuck Graff and helps him out at the shop – smelled “paper burning” in the glass shop and then went outside.

“I could see the flames shooting out of [Hearn’s] shop area,” she said.

Gottschall called Graff, who was on the south side of town and he rushed to his store when he got the news the building was on fire.

“I was screeching my tires at every stop sign and light,” he said, noting that his business has been in the Turner MFG Co. building for 18 years.

One of his main concerns as he watched black smoke roll from the broken-out windows of his glass shop was two 140-year-old antique mirrors he knew were inside. He told the firefighters, and they pulled Graff’s family heirlooms from the building before they got damaged.

“Oh my God, this is bad,” Graff said as he stood with friends along the edge of Foster Park watching the blaze continue.

Thick smoke covered Foster Park at different points in the afternoon, surrounding the small group of bystanders who had gathered alongside the business owners to watch. Traffic was blocked from South Washington Street to North Indiana Avenue until firefighters had completed their work.

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