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Three buildings were damaged in the downtown Lebanon fire which displaced one woman.
Lebanon Daily News

A two-alarm fire ripped through three buildings along the 400 block of Cumberland St. overnight Friday, becoming the largest fire in downtown Lebanon since HACC’s Lebanon Campus caught fire in 1990, according to the city fire commissioner.

City fire crews were alerted about 2:20 a.m. after a city police officer saw smoke in the area, said Lebanon City Fire Commissioner Duane Trautman. The fire started in the first floor rear area of 424 Cumberland St. which was unoccupied, and quickly spread to 422 Cumberland St., which was also unoccupied. Both of those buildings sustained heavy damage in a fire last year on April 6.

Related:: Three-alarm fire damages two Lebanon homes

One woman, who lives in a second floor apartment at 428 Cumberland St., managed to escape without injury. She was being assisted by the Lebanon Chapter of the American Red Cross.

The woman who lived in the apartment awoke to the sounds of popping and saw fire coming from her bathroom, Trautman said.

The first floor of that building is a dentist office run by Kathleen Kopeck-Groh D.M.D. It sustained heavy water and smoke damage, Trautman said.

All of the equipment in the office was destroyed, but fire fighters managed to save nearly all of the active patients records, the fire commissioner said.

“We were able to remove ninety-nine percent of the records which were placed in a fire department vehicle and locked,” Trautman said. “Mrs. Groh was very grateful.”

Kopecky-Groh said the building was insured at full replacement value, but she had no idea when she would be able to resume her practice.

Trautman said the fire was fully involved by the time fire fighters arrived within minutes of being dispatched.

“It was defensive from the beginning,” Trautman said. “There was no life in danger and the buildings were weakened by fire in the past.” 

Trautman said police had not reported any disturbances at the properties and he did not think the fire was suspicious. But its cause will most likely be “undetermined” due to the amount of damage and the intensity of the flames, he said. 

The fact that the two buildings burned last year still had char damage will also make it difficult to pinpoint a cause, Trautman added. 

“It will be difficult to tell what was already charred and what wasn’t,” he said. “I will have to go back and look at the photos.”

Trautman estimated there was more than $500,000 in damage from the fire.The cost would have been higher but the buildings at 422 and 424 were empty, he said.

“I don’t see how (the buildings at 422 and 424) can be saved,” Trautman said. “It’s sad for the historic buildings.”

Trautman said it is the worst fire in downtown Lebanon…