Vendors, customers on West Side Market fire

11:54 PM, Jan 30, 2013   |    comments
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CLEVELAND--Fire at the historic West Side Market has it closed indefinitely.

The blaze was contained to just two shops but smoke filled the giant structure and that is the real damage.

The fumes contaminated thousands of dollars worth of merchandise sold here. The clean-up will be an equally enormous task and costly.

Sebastian Meats is covered in soot and is barely recognizable. Fire investigators say this was the origin of the blaze.

Fosters, teh stall next door to Sebastian's, was also damaged.

Vendors who arrived to work early were greeted by closed doors.

"It's a bad feeling nothing you can do we'll wait and see," one vendor said.

The fire was small but smoke filled the century-old structure. Toxic fumes entered every cooler and counter filled with food.

"One thing I thought would never happen down here is a fire, another vendor said.

The Cleveland Health Department is inspecting shop inventory. Thousands of dollars in meats, fish, fruit, vegetables, bread and pastries will likely be lost.

Fire investigators don't know what caused the blaze but think it was an accident.

A security guard spotted the smoke just after 2 a.m. Wednesday morning.

West Side Market visitors were turned away. Market visitors come from all over.

"We love the beef jerky here. We were going on a trip to Florida, so we were coming up here to buy a bag," Joe Deguidice said.

Anne Marie Tracz lives in Toledo and she brought a friend visiting from Atlanta.

"It is a wonderful place and I'm kinda bummed, Tracz said.

The draw for them and some two million other people that visit the market each year are the many unique items found under one roof.

The lack of foot traffic will have an impact on nearby businesses. Sam McNulty shares ownership in six bars and restaurants on this block.

"It could be sizable. I'm optimistic, though, it could get fixed up quickly," McNulty said.

The City of Cleveland does not share his optimism. The cleanup is an enormous project, inspections take time, and the market closure is not a just a day but indefinite.


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