Firefighters Knock Down Part Of Shopping Center To Stop Blaze

EUCLID, Ohio - Thursday was pay day at Value World in Euclid. That's the good news for employees there.

The bad news is that the store is ruins after firefighters were forced to knock down the back wall of the building so that they could put out a stubborn fire that had started on Wednesday afternoon, 19/43 News' Scott Taylor reported.

More than 24 hours after the shopping center fire gutted the Value World store and smoked out a popular restaurant, the blaze simply would not go out, so firefighter were forced to take action.

The fire started in the basement of Value World and spread quickly, sending clouds of smoke high over East 258th Street and Euclid Avenue.

According to Value World employees, the fire began right before lunch, and everyone in the shopping center sensed the danger.

"We may have hung around two long," Family Dollar employee Pandora Penny said. "We started coughing, choking. Then we knew it was time to go."

The Euclid Fire Department moved in, but quickly realized that the fire had weakened the main floor, forcing firefighters to rush out of the 50-year-old building. They tried to wait it out, but soon realized that the blaze was not going to go out on its own, so they created a huge pool of water inside the store and took a wrecking ball to the back wall late Thursday afternoon.

"The employees of the Value World store reported smoke coming from the steps of the basement," Euclid Fire Department Chief Michael Dworning said on Wednesday.

Everyone in the shopping plaza was able to get out alive, but the nine stores were forced to shut down. One of the hardest hit was Thomas Papouras' Richmond Restaurant.

The 36-year-old family-owned restaurant is famous in its neighborhood for its corn beef sandwiches, something Papouras has been perfecting since 1966.

Papouras said that he was concerned, but added that repairs to the restaurant will be made and prices will stay the same. He also said that he hopes to be selling more corn beef sandwiches on Thursday.

Easter Seals, which sells clothes to the Value World and makes approximately $150,000 a year doing it, said that they would be fine because there is another Value World in the Cleveland area.