MIDDLEPORT — The aftermath of Monday night’s fire in Middleport that destroyed Ingles Carpet and Flooring was apparent on the face of owner York Ingles as he stood outside his establishment Tuesday morning.
Ingles was waiting for his insurance adjuster to arrive and begin the process of filing a claim for his loss.
His first comments were regarding the firefighters’ efforts to contain the fire.
“I must commend the fire departments. They did a fantastic job. Two buildings are gone, but most of the block was saved,” he said. “It is bad, but it could have been worse. They get all the praise.”
As he looked at what remained of his burned-out store, he said he started the business in 1983 with the help of his father, who was the owner of Ingles Furniture and Appliance store in Middleport.
“I had just graduated from college and I didn’t want to do what I went to college to study, so my dad suggested I start this business,” Ingles said. “I’m not sure what I will do next, but I’m optimistic. It’s in God’s hands. Maybe it’s a sign to move on. It’s a sad deal. I’ll just have to wait and see.”
Middleport Mayor Sandy Iannarelli arrived at the scene a bit later Tuesday morning and said she had been up all night and was glad everyone was safe. Her office had been receiving calls offering her support as soon as news of the fire spread.
She said one of the first calls she received was from Congressman Bill Johnson, who advised her he was sending representatives to the area to offer assistance and support. Another call came from state Sen. Lou Gentile, who also offered support.
With her to look over the fire damage was a representative from Congressman Bill Johnson’s office, Dan Halliburton, and Kathleen Young from Gov. John Kasich’s office, as well as Jill McCartney from Buckeye Hills. They, along with Dru Reed, from Farmers Bank in Pomeroy, and Meigs County Commission President Tim Ihle had met with Iannarelli earlier to offer their support and help with whatever the village might need.
“We are here to offer hope,” Young said while on site of the fire.
Jay Edwards, Republican candidate for the Ohio Legislature, also stopped by to offer his support to the village and said he would stay in touch to see what assistance he might offer.
Iannarelli said she was feeling hopeful after the meeting.
“I don’t feel like we (Middleport) are alone on this,” she said. “I hope and pray we can do something to bring Middleport back. We can’t let Middleport die any more than it has. It is good that people are expressing their support. We all have the same idea. Appalachia is getting left out and it is time people open their eyes. It isn’t just the big cities that need help; we need help, too.”
She then spoke of the firefighters who put out the blaze and said she wanted to thank them.
“They worked so hard, they risked so much. I wish there was something I (and) the village could do to show them how much we appreciated everything they did, ” Iannarelli said. “And the law enforcement was excellent. They had someone in custody soon after the fire started. It was amazing.”
She went on to say the village workers were out early making the area safe, cleaning up debris left from the fire, removing potentially hazardous materials and blocking off sections that were still unsafe.
“Frontier responded quickly to the loss of service,” Iannarelli said. “They have even sent out extra crews. It is greatly appreciated.”
With the smell of smoke hanging in the still, damp air, Iannarelli looked over the ruins and said she hoped something positive would come from the destruction.
“Maybe we can use this tragedy to do some good,” she said. “We have begun a clean-up. We are trying to put pride back into the village, to bring in new businesses. Instead of seeing this as the end for Middleport, I hope this can become a new beginning.”
Contact Lorna Hart at 740-992-2155, Ext.2551.