Firefighters keep blaze from spreading

PHOTO BY JILL GOSCHE Michelle Coffman and her 4-year-old son, Leland Coffman, watch crews work at the scene of the fire Friday afternoon.

Firefighters kept a fire that destroyed two apartments from spreading next door Friday afternoon.

The building is owned by Shirley Kear, who lives at 8 1/2 E. Market St., above her store, Kear’s Speed Shop. Her apartment and shop are next door but are in a separate building from the one that burned. 

“She owns all of it,” Chief Kevin Veletean of Tiffin Fire Rescue Division said. “Shirley owns everything.”

Veletean said the fire did not spread to Kear’s apartment. She could smell smoke in her apartment, and the shop was not damaged, he said.

Veletean said the store would be able to reopen without any issues once power was restored.

Below the apartments that burned is a garage containing 10 to 12 classic cars. Firefighters were able to stop the fire before it got there, and the cars were not damaged, Veletean said.

Kear has owned the speed shop at 6 E. Market St. for 48 years, and it handles sprint car equipment for races such as those in Attica and Fremont.

Kear said she was working at the shop when a resident, who had been giving her girl a bath, came down the steps screaming, “Fire.” It was billowing from the building.

“The baby wasn’t even dressed,” she said.

Donna Collet, who was at the scene of the fire, said her sister-in-law and her 3-month-old baby were home at the time of the fire, and they and a dog got out safely.

“They lost everything,” she said.

Rachel Stafford, who was among the first Tiffin Police Department officers to arrive at the scene, walked with the woman to Veletean’s truck. People who had been in Kear’s Speed Shop had gone upstairs to get people out, she said.

Stafford said flames were shooting out windows on the second story when she arrived, and there was a lot of smoke. She said she was impressed by the mutual aid.

“I thought the response time was pretty good,” she said.

Local businesses stepped up to take care of the police and fire crews working at the scene.

Domino’s Pizza donated 12 large pizzas, and Dunkin’ Donuts donated coffee.

People also gathered in the area as crews fought the fire.

Michelle Coffman and her 4-year-old son, Leland Coffman, of Tiffin, watched crews work. She said Leland likes the fire trucks and firefighters, and it was the first time he had seen a fire.

“We actually live up the street,” she said.

Michelle said Leland was going to play in the snow at his grandfather’s residence, but she picked him up instead. The family has a lot of fire truck and police car toys, she said.

“We drive by the fire trucks to see (them),” she said.