The cause of an April 17 fire on Johnson Avenue that closed five businesses has been ruled undetermined.
Assistant State Fire Marshal Mackey Ayersman said the source of the fire could not be positively identified. Investigators think the fire started near the Total Dental sign but weren't able to determine that as the starting point.
Total Dental was destroyed in the fire, and Vino e' Vita, Subway, Dry Cleaning World and Roberto's Restaurant are currently closed.
Total Dental now shares buildings with two other Bridgeport dental offices: Doctor Minter Chapman on Hill Street and Doctor Greg Moore on Johnson Avenue.
There's no word on when the businesses will be able to reopen in the strip mall.
One owner of a neighboring business said part of the Bridgeport strip mall that was damaged in a fire last Wednesday might need to be torn down before being restored.
Panhandle Cleaning and Restoration was at the strip mall Tuesday to assess the damage.
Last week's fire started in the Total Dental building and all of its neighboring businesses have been closed since.
It's unclear when cleaning and reconstruction will begin.
More than 50 firefighters from Bridgeport, Anmoore, Shinnston, Nutter Fort and Stonewood responded to a fire at Total Dental and surrounding Bridgeport businesses Wednesday night, according to Andrea Kerr, Bridgeport city clerk.
Firefighters entered the building from both the front and rear to try to push through the ceiling to get to the fire, but once inside, it was discovered that the building had multiple layers to the ceiling, according to Kerr.
Once it was determined by Fire Chief Chuck Feathers that the fire couldn't be accessed safely from the inside, firefighters were instructed to evacuate the building and put the fire out using the master stream from the outside, Kerr said.
Chief Feathers said three fire trucks were connected to hydrants at the same time with no lack of pressure or water.
"Damage and loss of local businesses in the city is a tragedy. The city feels for the owners and employees of all businesses involved. The city will do everything in its power to assist the businesses with the recovery from this tragic event," said City Manager Kim Haws.
The fire was extinguished around 11:30 p.m. Wednesday but firefighters remained on scene throughout the night to make sure that the fire didn't reignite. According to Kerr, firefighters will stay on scene for most of the day Thursday.
The cause of the fire and the point of origin is still undetermined, Kerr said.
Crews are on the scene of a commercial structure fire at a Bridgeport strip mall.
Harrison County 911 said the fire started around 7:15 p.m. at Total Dental on Johnson Avenue, across from Sheetz.
Firefighters said the fire has spread to other businesses within the Johnson Center strip mall, including United Rehab, Subway, and Vino e' Vita.
Fire departments from Bridgeport, Stonewood, Anmoore, Shinnston, and Nutter Fort responded to the fire, with three ladder trucks operating at one point.
Some area business owners were there when the fire started and said it appeared the fire started behind the Total Dental sign and spread to the roof. Those whose businesses were affected by the fire were already making plans.
"Like any business owner would feel, a little trepidation certainly, concerned but I think they have a handle on it now even though the flames are still coming out of this side of the building, its getting better than it was. Now we're just making plans for the next step, running the business," Jimmy Larosa, owner of Pottsville Energy.
The fire hadn't reached Larosa's business, but smoke damage was on his mind.
Gerald Ogden, who owns the building, said he bought the building in 1991 and put thousands upon thousands of hours of work into remodeling it. He said the fire just flushed 20 years of hard work down the drain.
He also said the fire damaged five businesses and that it will probably put 60 to 70 people out of work.
At last report, Bridgeport Fire Chief Feathers said the fire was under control. Feathers said crews will be working throughout the night to check for hot spots throughout the building and will investigate the cause of the fire on Thursday.
Lodgeville Road and part of Johnson Avenue were shut down. Lodgeville Road has since reopened.