By Wayne Allen
January 14, 2014
Common Staff Writer
The State Fire Marshal is seeking information from those that may have been around the origins of the Emmitt House fire that occurred Monday night.
Officials with the fire marshals office is looking to speak with anyone who may have information, taken photos or video around the scene at the start of the fire.
“We’re looking for anyone that has information or may have seen something at or around the time of the fire,” said Michael Duchesne, Ohio Department of Commerce Spokesman. “Specifically we were looking for anybody who may have taken pictures or video around the time of the fire.”
He said there are several pictures and videos circulating around the internet of the fire once it was fully involved.
“We’re looking more for things at or around the time of the fire, when it started,” Duchesne said.
He said the fire marshals office got involved in the investigation of the fire because of the estimated high dollar loss of the property.
“If the locals call us in we’re going to respond, specifically we’re on this one because of the high dollar loss,” Duchesne said. “It’s completely unofficial at this point, but it’s (value of the loss) going to be north of a million dollars, I’ve heard $1.5 and $2 million”
He said the amount lost generally comes from the insurance companies and responding departments, but that’s what he’s been told.
In a message to supporters of the Emmitt House on facebook, Pam Ison, owner and operator of the Emmitt House, wrote, “I want to express my deepest sympathy for the loss of a beautiful historical building, words can not express the loss I feel. I owned it but it belonged to many. It was the center of our small community, it was loved by many. When I bought the old building, I never knew how much it would come to mean to me, over the months I fell in love with the building, we had so many plans in the future to do different things.
I’m devastated over the loss of the Emmitt House. The fire started on the south end of my building, in the area of the bakery and exercise studio. I don’t know why or how but it moved fast over the rest of the building. I will keep you all updated when I have more news. I will tell you all this, thank you all for being a part of the Emmitt House, it may be gone but I can promise you this. It will never be forgotten. I may be knocked down, but Im getting back up and will stand again. I am not defeated.”
Dispatchers with the Waverly Police Department said the fire began at 8:28 p.m. Monday. Dispatchers from the Pike County Sheriff’s Office said the fire began in the kitchen, and everyone made it out safely with no injuries with the building a total loss.
The origins of the building dates back to the 1800s when it was constructed and opened as a hotel.
According to information at www.travelohio.com, “the year 1861 may have been the most traumatic year in this nation’s history. The nation was split by civil war, and the first man from Waverly was killed in battle, John Barnes, had died in June, 1861. Waverly resident’s, caught in the national war frenzy, still took time out to admire the construction of James Emmitt’s new hotel at the corner of Water and Market streets. The Emmitt House was being constructed on the site of an earlier frame hotel, originally owned by a former business partner of James Emmitt. Emmitt, the town’s main entrepreneur, was building the hotel in anticipation of his greatest political achievement, the transfer of the county seat from Piketon to Waverly. The Emmitt House is listed on the National Register of Historical Places.”
The exact cause of the fire is not yet known.
Duchesne said anyone with information, photos or videos at or around the start of the fire should call 1-800-589-2728.
Wayne Allen may be reached at 740-353-1151, or firstname.lastname@example.org. For breaking news, follow Wayne on Twitter @WayneallenPDT.