Loveland Memorial Day parade 'more meaningful than ever' after devastating fire

Posted at 1:19 PM, May 29, 2017
and last updated 2017-05-29 23:27:00-04

LOVELAND, Ohio -- Tenants and businesses lost everything in a devastating fire in Old Loveland early Sunday morning. That didn't stop Loveland from honoring fallen veterans the following day.

"I think it's more meaningful to everyone this year than ever," Mary Ann Lynn, a Loveland resident and parade attendee, said. "What you see here today in the parade is typical of a beautiful Memorial Day in Loveland. People come out and they pull together."

Historic downtown Loveland, beloved for its small-town charm, was dealt a serious blow early Sunday. The community has vowed it won't be fatal.

A massive fire gutted the upper floors of three buildings on West Loveland Avenue, near the Little Miami Scenic Trail. Everyone escaped unharmed. Firefighters with the Loveland-Symmes Fire Department were first called at about 1:30 a.m. Roofs collapsed. Facades, once quaint and familiar, were left scorched, soaked and blackened from smoke.

It took firefighters more than six hours to get the flames under control and to put out any hot spots hidden within the historic structures.

"We're a small town," Lynn said. "Everybody is heartbroken about the fire and Old Loveland."

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Tano Bistro and Catering, a dress boutique and a realtor's office are among the buildings affected. The former Julian's space, which Paxton's ownership was renovating, also is affected. It was set to open in the next week or two as Bike Trail Junction. Apartments above the businesses were destroyed.

Loveland City Manager David Kennedy said Sunday evening the fire started above Tano's walk-in cooler, and it is believed to have been caused by an electrical issue.

PHOTOS: Massive fire in historic Loveland

Mayor Mark Fitzgerald said Monday's parade and celebration is a testament to Loveland's resilience and sense of community.

"It's amazing how the community rallies together," Fitzgerald said. "I was here yesterday afternoon and three or four people approached me about how they are either offering help or asking how they may help."

The city will work with owners to save the buildings, Kennedy said. City staff are working with a structural engineer on the best way to secure them in the meantime. Kennedy said all other downtown buildings are safe and open.

The mayor said tenants and business owners are "holding out very, very strong hope that the buildings can be restored."

Fitzgerald also said he hopes the Fourth of July in Loveland will go off without a hitch and with repairs to much of the damaged buildings.