Kent concert club burns to ruins (with gallery)

By Kyle McDonald | Staff Writer Published:

An investigation into a fire that engulfed Kent's Checkers-N-Trophies concert bar Monday night will continue through Thursday, when demolition of the structure is likely.

"It's a total loss," said Kent Fire Chief Dave Manthey, who estimated about $150,000 in damages. There were no injuries.

Firefighters responded to two calls at the 352 Elm St. bar on Monday.

At about 5 p.m., firefighters were called after a fire broke out in the basement, which Manthey said was reportedly caused by soldering mishap. The fire was extinguished and the Kent Fire Department was at the scene for about an hour, he said.

At about 9:15 p.m., fire crews were called again for a much larger fire.

"It was rolling when we got here. There was smoke coming out of every possible nook and cranny," Manthey said. He said that the second floor of the structure, which housed multiple apartments, completely collapsed into the first floor, which limited firefighter access.

Firefighters from Rootstown, Mantua-Shalersville, Stow, Aurora, Streetsboro, Ravenna and Ravenna Township provided assistance.

Manthey said the fire was brought under control at about 1:30 a.m. Tuesday.

He said because the building have been renovated several times, firefighters found it difficult to control the blaze.

By Tuesday evening, the building was boarded up and secured.

West Elm Street was closed for most of the day Tuesday, but has been reopened. A small section of Pine Street remains closed because of the unstable nature of the building, Manthey said.

Manthey said insurance investigators will analyze the scene today and Thursday, after which the charred remains of the building will come down.

He said the building is a collapse risk and asked residents to stay away from the site.

"We plan on starting to pull the building apart on Thursday," he said. "We're going to have some equipment there to systematically take it apart piece by piece so that we can try to confirm the origin of the fire.

Sherrie McVeigh, who lives in the neighborhood, said smoke from the fire spread to the surrounding street.

"We had to close the windows. It was bad," she said. "I'm just glad nobody was hurt."

Checkers-N-Trophies was in the 352 Elm St. building for about three years. The building, which was built in the 1920s according to county records, was formerly run as El Dorado Lounge under Earl "Doc" Holliday and his family.

Contact this reporter at 330-298-1127 or kmcdonald@recordpub.com

Facebook: Kyle McDonald, Record-Courier

Twitter: @KyleMcDonald_RC

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