Fire In 100-Year-Old Building In Downtown Bluffton (VIDEO & PHOTOS)

By Emma Koch


9 photos

June 26, 2013 Updated Jan 8, 2014 at 2:15 PM EDT

BLUFFTON, Ind. (www.incnow.tv) -- Crews battled a fire at a historic building in downtown Bluffton Wednesday.

The blaze broke out just after noon in an apartment in a building in the 100 block of W. Perry. Everyone inside was able to get out safely. But several firefighters were treated for heat exhaustion after working to get the fire under control.

The owner of the building told 21 Alive it's at least 100 years old.

The age of the structure made fighting the fire more difficult for firefighters and the roof on the building collapsed.

"The brick and mortar is in poor condition that's why we had significant cracking going on to the structure and when we took our defensive operations we ensured that we were compliant with our collapse zones for the safety of our firefighters and public," said Captain Chris Broderick, Fire Investigator, Bluffton Fire Department.

Despite the damage fire officials aren't calling the building a total loss.

Nancy Williams lived in the building for 20 years and lived across from the apartment that caught fire. She escaped just before firefighters showed up and said watching it burn was difficult.

"I heard the roof caved in and I lost everything so maybe I can get something salvageable out of it. I may have lost everything I got but at least I'm alive," said Nancy Williams, lived in the building for 20 years.

Williams says she has a friend to stay with in the short term. But says her landlord has offered her a new apartment to move into.

As crews were fighting the fire State Route 1 was closed for several hours.

This isn't the first time one of the town's historical building caught fire. In November 2011 the downtown landscape was forever changed when the town lost a historic building to a fire. That building had to be demolished because of how badly it was damaged. But, at this point, the fire investigator isn't saying this building will be a total loss.

Video Courtesy - Aaron Wiley

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