Family’s home destroyed, business damaged
By Erik Buchinger
A family of five are seeking donations after a fire destroyed their Clintonville apartment and severely damaged China King Restaurant, which they own, in the early morning of Wednesday, Nov. 23.
The family is staying in Clintonville at the Landmark Motel. The motel is accepting donated items with help from the Red Cross, an organization that provides immediate assistance to families for the first three days following tragic events.
With help from the Red Cross, the Landmark Motel co-owner Sarah Lamia welcomed the family in at approximately 6:45 a.m.
“They were obviously shook up, and they are shocked,” Lamia said. “They hadn’t slept. They’re exhausted, overwhelmed both by the fire and the overwhelming support from the community.”
Lamia said the family has received a significant amount of items, including clothing, food items, among others.
B & H Fashionwear donated shoes, and Spectacular Visions sent glasses. Knights of Columbus donated a Thanksgiving dinner to the family.
“So much has been donated that it fills a hotel room,” Lamia said. “They’re learning the extent of damage and just trying to take care of specifics. They’re trying to get back on their feet again.”
Lamia said the motel has taken in families several times when in need.
“Each family is different,” Lamia said. “Some are fortunate enough through insurance to rebuild or find a new home within a week, some it could take months.
“That’s just what we do, and that’s what this community does for others.”
Lamia said there is a donation fund for the family set up at Clintonville’s First State Bank, and a potential housing plan for the family could be reached by Dec. 1.
The family evacuated when smoke detectors went off in their apartment early Wednesday morning.
The Clintonville Fire Department, Clintonville Area Ambulance and Clintonville Police were dispatched to the fire at 46 S. Main St. at 2:09 a.m.
The Clintonville Fire Department was assisted by fire departments from Marion, Manawa, Bear Creek, Pella and Embarrass.
The nature of the building configuration, structural age and adjacent buildings along with extensive fire in the upper level of the building made the fire difficult to combat.
“Once we made an initial attack upstairs, we realized how large the fire was,” Clintonville Fire Department Fire Chief Shane Krueger said. “We attacked the upstairs and the windows until we were able to suppress it enough that we were able to go back up and finish, but it did involve a total roof collapse.”
Crews remained on scene until 4 p.m.
The state fire marshal’s office and building inspector was summoned to assist in the investigation, and the fire was determined to be accidental in nature.
The fire started in the floor structure between the China King Restaurant and the apartments located above the business.
This marked the second fire in Clintonville’s downtown in exactly five weeks, as the upper apartments above Doesn’t Compute computer shop and Main Street Tattoos caught fire on Oct. 19.
“We haven’t had fires in that area in years, so having them back to back like this is certainly a rarity,” Krueger said.
China King has significant water damage, and due to structural safety concerns of the building impacted by the fire, the adjoining business Schultz’s Blue Bird Café will remain closed until further notice.
“We’re thankful there were no injuries to report with all the people that came to help in the community,” Krueger said.