WAUSEON - Alone on a blackened stretch of sidewalk here is a partially melted laundry basket. It is full with its last, singed load - still neatly folded, for the most part.
Behind it stands the hulking, charred shell of a historic downtown apartment building that was ravaged by a fire early Friday morning that left two people dead.
“It breaks your heart,” said Lowell Yoder, 72, a Holland resident who grew up in Wauseon. Mr. Yoder returned yesterday to see the remains of a place he visited regularly as a high school student.
Police estimate that the fire, which was started about 4:30 a.m. by a man cooking on his stove, may have caused $1 million in damage and left the nearly 100-year-old Arcade building a total loss.
The fire began in the apartment of Frank Molina, 52, who tried to douse a grease fire with water, causing the flames to shoot to the ceiling and spread quickly, according to Detective Richard Bingham.
The city's law director is expected to decide this week whether Mr. Molina will be charged with negligent homicide, a misdemeanor, he said.
Officials are awaiting the results of a blood test to determine if Mr. Molina, on whom police detected an odor of alcohol at the time, was drunk, Detective Bingham said.
Mr. Molina, a bartender in town and “night owl,” had worked the day before the fire at Murphy's Place, a nearby bar, the detective said.
The blaze gutted the Arcade building, and eight fire departments took several hours to bring it under control. Some tenants jumped from second-floor windows to escape.
Killed were Glen Rice, 81, a World War II veteran, and Cindra Weber, 45, who was staying with a friend.
The building, located along the main street in this Fulton County community of about 8,000, had 20 apartments, a used-furniture shop, an electronics store, and a beauty shop.
Most businesses nearby were open yesterday, except for those adjacent to the Arcade that received extensive smoke and water damage.41.55018 -84.13434