VERSAILLES — Nearly 100 firefighters from four counties battled a four-alarm fire Tuesday evening that left the historic Inn at Versailles heavily damaged and closed for business.
At approximately 6:34 p.m., emergency personnel from the Versailles Fire Department, Versailles Rescue and Osgood Fire Department responded along with officers from the Versailles Police Department to The Inn at Versailles located at 21 West Main Street to the report of a stove fire in the kitchen area of the Inn.
Fire departments from Darke, Miami, Mercer, and Shelby counties were on the scene. Smoke could be seen billowing from the building.
Arriving units to the scene observed heavy smoke coming from the rear of the building and quickly requested a second-alarm and eventually a third and fourth-alarm with ladder trucks from the Greenville City and Burkettsville Fire Departments.
Chief Brian Pearson, of the Versailles Fire Department, reported that a full fourth-alarm with a request for one engine crew from a fifth-alarm was requested to the scene for assistance. A total of nearly 100 firefighters from Darke, Mercer, Miami and Shelby Counties gathered in an attempt to bring the blaze under control.
“We had a great response from all of our mutual aid departments. We have pre-planned a lot of these situations ahead of time and as you can see from all of these guys here there was a great coordinated effort tonight and everyone worked hard to bring this to a positive end,” Pearson said.
Due to the historic nature of the building, smoke had spread into empty cavities in the walls, forcing firefighters to open many walls and ceilings of the second floor to battle the flames. Although the smoke appeared to be dissipated around midnight, crews remained on site all through the night as a precaution in case of reignition. The source of the fire is under investigation.
Ken DeMange, director of corporate communications at the Midmark Corporation, who owns and operates The Inn at Versailles, echoed his sentiments adding, “There are so many dedicated, amazing and brave people that have come to the rescue here today from so many different towns. As you can see, looking up and down the street, they are from all the surrounding villages and that is what makes this community such a great community to live in. They are all such amazing heroes.”
According to Maria Bennett, a manager at The Inn at Versailles, the fire was spotted in a range hood above a stove by a chef working in the kitchen. A fire extinguisher was used in an attempt to extinguish the fire but was unsuccessful prior to her calling 9-1-1. Bennett also stated six guests and 13 employees were accounted for at the time of the outbreak. All of the guests of the Inn have been safely relocated without any reported injuries.
Midmark President and CEO John Baumann stated, “While it is very sad to see the damage to The Inn, long after we have restored what was lost, we will remember the individual firefighters, EMS, teammates and community at large that supported us last night. It was remarkable to see that there are communities of people like Versailles and Darke County who appreciate and understand the value of supporting each other. I would also like to recognize our teammates who responded so well and secured the safety of our guests.”
“At the time the fire was discovered the staff, in a uniformed fashion, quickly and safely evacuated the hotel and dining room areas of the Inn aiding in the success of the report of no injuries,” commented Ken DeMange. “It’s obvious that we will remain closed for some time. It’s too soon to determine how long that may be though,” he added.
The cause and nature of the fire have not been determined at this time and will remain under investigation by the Versailles Fire Department.
Jim Comer is a freelance reporter for the Greenviile Daily Advocate. Read more news, features and sports at DarkeCountyMedia.com