Athens Uptown Fire

1:21 p.m. Three firefighters and one police officer were taken to OhioHealth O'Bleness Memorial Hospital earlier today, according to a city news release.

Three of the four residents who were transported to O'Bleness earlier today were treated and released, according to Stephanie Filson, an Ohio University spokeswoman.

12:42 p.m. OU estimates that about 40 students were displaced this morning because of the fire. Power will be restored to all areas except Union Street sometime later today, according to a city news release.

12:30 p.m. Some Uptown businesses are closed as a result of the fire. They include:

• Donkey Coffee & Espresso (17 W. Washington St.)

• Follett's University Bookstore (63 S. Court St.)

Uptown eateries Buffalo Wild Wings (23 W. Union St.), Wendy's (40 S. Court St.) and Brenen's Coffee Cafe (38 S. Court St.), are among those still open.

12:15 p.m.: This statement was posted on The Union Bar & Grill's Facebook page at approximately 11:40 a.m.: To the Union extended family, I'm sad to report that early this morning a fire started on our block of Union street. Though firefighters made heroic efforts to contain the blaze, it quickly spread down the street to us. I currently don't know the full extent of the damage but it is very extensive. Thankfully no one was injured, but The Union as we knew it is no more. I truly appreciate all the offers of help and warm sentiments. The Union was a second home to so many of us (including myself), it makes my heart ache. As I know more I will try to keep this page updated. Hopefully the place will have a good phoenix story coming soon."

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11:40 a.m. Those looking to help students displaced from their homes can drop off donations near the front desk on the fourth floor of Baker University Center.

You can also donate money by selecting the OHIO Parents & Family Fund at It provides emergency funds to students.

11:20 a.m. Fire damage to the public house portion of Jackie O's was minimal, but the property suffered an unknown amount of water damage, said Art Oestrike, owner of Jackie O's Pub & Brewery.

He said that the Jackie O's kitchen and electric panel are largely housed in the Union Bar & Grill side of the building, which lost its roof in the fire.

He said that the Jackie O's kitchen and public house will remain closed for a long time in the aftermath of the fire and that the brew side of Jackie O's will continue to serve drinks but not food.

Jackie O's makes bread that is serviced to several business around Athens, including Union Street Diner.

"We're back to 2009," Oestrike said, referencing the early days of the pub before Jackie O's expanded into the public house side.  

Oestrike said he was at Jackie O's' Stimson Street brewing location at approximately 5:30 a.m. when he saw the flames rising from the Uptown area. 

He said he'd like to thank the emergency service teams who responded to the fire and that his heart goes out to all those affected by the fire — especially those who had it worse off than Jackie O's.

11:00 a.m. Everyone was evacuated from the enflamed buildings by 5 a.m., according to a city of Athens news release.

10:30 a.m. Ron Lucas, the city of Athens' Deputy Service Safety Director, said at a 9:30 a.m. news conference that the city is unsure of the cause of the fire.

The fire is the subject of an investigation, he said.

10:10 a.m. Lucas said that the following streets are closed to vehicular traffic until further notice.

  • Union Street is closed between Congress and College streets.
  • Court Street is closed between Washington and President streets.
  • Congress Street is closed between Washington and Union streets.

Lucas said the streets may be reopened later today. 

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10:05 a.m. Firefighters were "still watering down" The Union Bar & Grill at 9:30 a.m. It was the only building still on fire at that point. 

9:46 a.m. Ron Lucas, the city of Athens' Deputy Service Safety Director, said that the Athens Fire Department was called regarding a fire on Union Street at 4:11 a.m. He said that the entire block surrounding the source of the fire was evacuated shortly thereafter. 

Four students were "physically affected" by the fire, three of whom have since been released. One student was transported to a hospital.

30 OU students are displaced, he said, and OU is looking for housing for those affected. 

One firefighter and one police officer have been transported to a hospital. 

When asked, Lucas said he did not know which hospital the student and authorities have been transported to.

Lucas did not know the condition of the transported firefighter or police officer.

The city of Athens will provide more information at noon, Lucas said.

9:38 a.m. Those affected by the fire have been asked by OU to attend a 4 p.m. meeting in Baker University Center, according to an OU alert.

9:24 a.m. City of Athens officials will be conducting a news conference about the fire at 9:30 a.m. 

9:17 a.m. Goodfella’s Pizza, which borders the burned buildings on Union Street, sent out this tweet at 8:45 a.m.: “We are deeply saddened for our friends and neighbors who have suffered great damage due to this catastrophic fire."

9:07 a.m. “I just got a call like 20 minutes ago, saying, 'Hey your building's on fire,' " said Alex Couladis, part-owner of the property that includes The Union and Jackie O’s Pub & Brewery.

His family has owned the properties since the 1950s, and his father was one of the first owners of The Union. Auditor records show the buildings were built in 1900.

Couladis said he had never seen this sort of damage to one of his family's properties.

9:03 a.m. OU added more information to its alert at 8:55 a.m. The addition reads, in part: "The closest Ohio University facility to the fire is 31 S. Court Street. Students housed there have been notified of the situation. Utilities to the affected block, including 31 S. Court Street, have been shut off."

8:48 a.m. OU issued an alert regarding the fire at 8:25 a.m. 

The statement reads, in part: "Ohio University officials are working with about 30 students who were displaced due to a fire Sunday morning on Union Street in downtown Athens. Ohio University officials are working on providing short-term housing and other needs for the affected students."

This time-lapse video was taken at 7:55 a.m. by Post managing editor Sara Jerde.

8:35 a.m. Firefighters have focused their efforts on containing damage to at least five main buildings, including: Jackie O's Pub & Brewery, The Union Bar & Grill, Kismet, Smoke Zone Smoke Shop and Jack Neal Floral.

8:28 a.m. More than 20 students have taken shelter from the fire this morning in Baker, according to Ryan Lombardi, OU vice president for Student Affairs.

8:18 a.m. Jenny Hall-Jones, OU Dean of Students, said that the university is transporting students to the Baymont Inn and Holiday Inn hotels.

Athens Mayor Paul Wiehl referred all questions to Athens’ Service Safety Director Paula Horan-Moseley, who declined to comment.

8:10 a.m. Hall-Jones said that there are currently no reports of injuries as a result of the fire. 

7:55 a.m. There are still flames at The Union, and firefighters are attempting to enter the building from the roof of Jackie O's Pub & Brewery, 24 W. Union St.

7:37 a.m. Post reporters count five Uptown buildings with extensive fire damage.

Water is streaming down the steps of The Union and is running into the street. A barstool has been used to prop the bar's door open.

Two Red Cross volunteers are on hand to offer further assistance.

7:27 a.m. Firefighters just broke into a window of The Union, and smoke came billowing out at them, according to a Post reporter on the scene. 

7:25 a.m.

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7:15 a.m.

Vehicular traffic is stopped on Court Street, and smoke is still billowing out of the buildings. There is more smoke than flames at this point.

7:07 a.m.

Two residents who live above Jack Neal Floral said they were awoken by someone pounding on their door at approximately 4:30 a.m.

“I thought someone was breaking in,” said Deanna Schaeffer, a senior studying communication.

Schaeffer said she left the building with her roommate and neighbors, who had woken them up. 

Schaeffer said she and her roommate, Kylie Gyurgyak, a senior studying media management, sat across the street for about 45 minutes, but there was just smoke to see.

“Then all of a sudden there were about 40 foot flames,” Schaeffer said.

At approximately 5:30 a.m. Schaeffer and Gyurgyak went to the fourth floor of Baker.

Hall-Jones met students at Baker.

Hall-Jones said she is going to contact the students’ faculty as well.

6:55 a.m.

Tim Horton’s donated coffee, cocoa and donuts to displaced students, according to a tweet by Ryan Lombardi, OU vice president for Student Affairs. Firefighters from Nelsonville, The Plains and Athens are on scene.

6:46 a.m.

Alison Stewart, a senior studying special education who lives above Jack Neal Floral, said she was woken up at about 3:30 a.m. by a friend who said a fire had started in the house next door.

She grabbed her computer and left the apartment and hasn't had the chance to go back since — and might not for days, she said.

Stewart told The Post that she had heard from OU officials that the fire was believed to be electrical. The mood on the fourth floor of Baker is somber Sunday morning, she said.

"Everybody was upset, and a couple people were crying," Stewart said. "It's mostly the fact they don't have anything and they couldn't go back."

Follow @ThePost for updates

Authorities have been battling a fire Uptown early this morning, which witnesses in the vicinity believe to have started at Jack Neal Floral, 12 W. Union St.

At least six fire trucks are on hand. The fire has spread to include the apartments above the flower shop. 

American Electric Power, which supplies power to the city of Athens, disconnected power earlier in the morning. Power was being restored in some areas as of 6:35 a.m.

View additional video of the fire

6:11 a.m. Several buildings show extensive damage, and the interior of Kismet (16 W. Union St.) is barren — though the flames there have been extinguished. 

Residents were evacuated — about 15 of whom are taking shelter on the fourth floor of Baker, Hall-Jones said.

"With this many people, trying to coordinate we are going to need hotel rooms," Hall-Jones said.

Hall-Jones is currently looking for hotel rooms for the displaced residents. She said that the OU Inn is booked, so she is calling other nearby hotels.


Correction: A previous version of this article mislabeled Alex Couladis. He is the part-owner of the property that includes The Union Bar & Grill and Jackie O’s Pub & Brewery.

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