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BREAKING NEWS: South Whitley's Kent Theater catches fire

February 18, 2012

Post & Mail photo / Nicole Ott

SOUTH WHITLEY — Firefighters from at least three departments were called late Saturday morning to respond to a fire at South Whitley’s Kent Theatre, located at 220 S. State St.
Whitley County dispatchers received a call at 11:31 a.m. that the theater, built around 1947 with a seating capacity of 200, was seen with smoke coming from its roof. Departments from Columbia City, Cleveland and Washington townships were dispatched to the scene.
According to Post & Mail reporters at the location, firefighters from Cleveland Township entered the building adjacent to the theater to check for infiltration and to see if there were chemicals burning which could cause additional dangers at the scene.
The adjacent building, a former hardware store known locally as the Hicks and Deaton building, showed no signs of damage, according to firefighters.
Firefighters from Columbia City, using a ladder truck, approached the roof, where the fire is believed to have originated. The plan, according to firefighters, was to ventilate the roof in order to help slow down the fire. Firefighters decided that action would not be safe and abandoned the plan. Crews did, however, create holes in the theater’s façade to help ventilate the building.
As of 1:14 p.m., fire crews were still battling the blaze.
The theater’s owners, Mark and Michelle Pratt were on the scene.
The Post & Mail will continue to update the story as it develops.

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