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WEST CHESTER — A three-alarm fire caused “significant damage” to a building along North Church and Market streets late Monday night.
West Chester Police Chief Scott Bohn said that it’s too early to give any estimates to the amount of damage, which stretches from Kaplans Fine Jewelry on Market Street to New Haven Pizza on North Church Street.
No injuries were reported and as of Tuesday afternoon, no residents were displaced.
“Three people were living above the area of 111 W. Market St.,” Bohn said. “We were able to only locate one person that was residing there and had him on location there last night.”
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The other two people were not accounted for, though Bohn doesn’t believe they were in the building.
“We were unable to locate them,” he said. “We swept the residences once we were aware, as did the fire department. We didn’t locate any additional individuals.”
The American Red Cross, which was on hand Monday night, found a place for the one individual to stay overnight until the building is deemed safe to enter.
For the most part, the building’s second and third stories are offices.
Firefighters were alerted when the first call was reported at 9:23 p.m.
West Chester Fire Department Fire Chief Michael McDonald declared it a three-alarm fire at 10:55 p.m.
Fifteen fire companies were on-site, including all three West Chester companies, and extended out to Concordville and Newtown Square. Five companies were on standby.
All told, there were at least 147 first responders at the scene, including 16 engines, five trucks, an additional 84 firemen, three rescue units, an air unit, six squad utility units, four fire police and traffic units, six basic life support ambulance and rehab units and two advanced life support medic units.
“When you’re dealing with that many people under those conditions and that type of fire, it’s certainly remarkable that nobody was injured,” Bohn said. “It was an extremely stubborn fire. They did a really good job fighting it last night.”
The fire was placed under control by 11:49 p.m.
While the cause of the fire and its starting location are still under investigation, Bohn doesn’t believe foul play was involved.
“I feel very comfortable in saying we believe that there was nothing criminal in nature that took place at the location of the fire,” he said. “It was probably accidental. The exact cause or point of origin is still being evaluated.”
As the investigation continues and the extent of the damage is evaluated, the building is being boarded up and will probably be plastic wrapped by a restoration company until it is declared safe to enter.
For the time being, the section of North Church Street where the building is located is closed off to vehicular traffic.
The sidewalk is also blocked to pedestrians.
“It is our hope to open up that roadway for vehicular traffic soon,” Bohn said. “Pedestrian and vehicular safety comes first. As we move closer, we’ll be opening up that roadway and allowing traffic to flow more normally. The area in and around that sidewalk or in close proximity to the building will be blocked off.”