Cause of Fire at F&CS Under Investigation
Damage to social services building estimated at $80,000
Acting Kent Fire Chief Dave Manthey said investigators are sending some samples from the fire scene to the Ohio Fire Marshal's Office for testing.
Sending samples to the state fire marshal's office is standard procedure and does not indicate arson, but investigators aren't ruling it out, Manthey said.
"We don’t want to rule it out, but we just want to cover all our bases," he said.
Firefighters got the call just before 6 a.m. Wednesday that the brick building at 143 Gougler Ave. was engulfed in flames.
No one was inside the building at the time of the fire and no injuries were reported.
Trucks and firefighters from Streetsboro and Ravenna provided mutual aid to Kent in extinguishing the fire, which was under control by 6:30 a.m. The fire was restricted to the northern, upstairs wing of the building.
The agency provides mental health and substance abuse clinical counseling services to its clients.
Mark Frisone, executive director of Family & Community Services, said he was grateful for the fast response from the firefighters at Kent's West Side Fire Station, which stands just a few hundred feet down the street.
"We hope to be back and open by Monday morning," Frisone said. "Only one third of the building has been implicated with the fire. Once we clear out the smoke and some of the water, the balance of the building we’ll be able to get back up and running at least a portion of our services for Monday. That’s the game plan at this point."
The agency's employees were allowed access to the southern portion of the building to survey the damage Wednesday. Across the street, a member of the Unitarian Universalist Church of Kent opened the sanctuary's doors to offer free to the staff coffee and whatever other help it could.
"It’s all about being neighbors," the parishioner, who did not want to be identified, said. "That’s what we’re supposed to do."