TIPP CITY — Following a fire that destroyed a downtown Tipp City business and displaced residents, local businesses and organizations are coming together to help.
Fire crews were called to Browse Awhile Books in the Old Tippecanoe Main Street Historic District twice, the first time around 10 p.m. Monday night. The fire rekindled, and crews were called out again early Tuesday morning.
The building is a total loss, Fire Chief Steve Kessler said. He estimated approximately $600,000 in damage was done to the building and its contents.
Owner Bill Jones told the fire department that an estimated $1 million in inventory was damaged or destroyed in the blaze, officials said. The store specialized in hard to find, out of print, used and rare books.
Residents of the upstairs apartments lost all of their belongings, as well as a pet cat.
The cause of the fire is undetermined and under investigation by the State Fire Marshal, Kessler said.
Two people were treated for smoke inhalation. A firefighter was also treated, Kessler said.
Crews from Vandalia, West Milton, and Casstown provided assistance.
In the wake of the fire, the community is coming together to help those affected.
The Downtown Tipp City Partnership created a GoFundMe page to raise money for the business owners for any costs beyond what insurance will cover, as well as the residents of the upstairs apartments.
“We have a strong, tight-knit community that I know will rally behind our downtown owners and residents in their time of need,” DTCP Director Heather Dorsten wrote on the page.
To donate or learn more about the fundraiser, visit www.gofundme.com/2aj74ptp.
Another downtown business, That Place On Main, is accepting donations of clothing, furniture and other household goods to help the residents displaced by the fire. The store has access to a warehouse, where they are offering to store donations.
“This is such a small community, everyone here is pretty much like family. We’re all hurting because they are,” store employee Rachel Dillahunt said. She added that a tab also has been started at Harrison’s Restaurant for those residents.
A married couple and another man lived in the two apartments above the bookstore. Those residents lost everything.
“It just seems like the least we can do. We’re a small community and we all come together. This is tragic,” That Place On Main owner Jen White said.
To find out more about donating items, visit the Facebook pages of That Place On Main, www.facebook.com/That-Place-on-Main-861784027173385, and the Downtown Tipp City Partnership, www.facebook.com/DowntownTippCityPartnership.
A connected structure, housing clothing store Merchant31, was also damaged by smoke and water.
“We are sad to announce that our building was affected by the secondary fire that flared up early this morning,” the Merchant31 Facebook page posted Tuesday morning. “We ask that you pray for the tenants living upstairs at Browse A While books who have lost everything.”
The building housing the bookstore was built in 1871. The Old Tippecanoe Main Street Historic District is listed in the National Register of Historic Places.
Media affiliate WDTN contributed to this report.
Reach Cecilia Fox at firstname.lastname@example.org or (937) 552-2205.