A large blaze Saturday morning destroyed an apartment above Happy Valley Chinese Restaurant, 111 East Herrick Ave., and will keep the business closed for the foreseeable future.
“The second floor is completely gutted,” said Wellington fire chief Mike Wetherbee. “It was broken down into numerous rooms, but the entire thing in uninhabitable. No one was in the apartment when the fire broke out. The occupant was down in the restaurant, smelled smoke, and called it in.”
No cause has been determined, but space heaters and other electrical factors in the apartment, which is occupied by Wendy Xia, owner and operator of Happy Valley, are being investigated.
Wellington firefighters responded to the fire around 11:30 a.m. and was aided by crews from Oberlin, Amherst, LaGrange, Spencer, Wakeman, Rochester, and Carlisle Township. No injuries were reported.
Wellington police complimented the response on Facebook, saying it “saved the East Herrick block.”
“It was burning pretty good by the time we got there,” Wetherbee said. “Our crews were able to get up the stairs and got it knocked down pretty quickly. There was no fire extension to any of the other buildings. The restaurant sustained heavy water and smoke damage. They’ll be closed for quite some time.”
Some surrounding businesses, such as Village Resale, suffered blown-out windows.
Al Leiby of the Spirit of ‘76 Museum on South Main Street said the apartment was used by Archibald Willard to gain inspiration for his famous painting, which is the museum’s namesake.
“Willard looked out that window and saw the Brighton Pipe and Drum Corps marching in a parade,” he said. “Seeing them out there in the square is what gave him the idea for the painting. That apartment is one of the most historically significant that we have in the village. I asked to take pictures from inside that window about eight months ago for that very reason.”
The building is owned by Mark Fundak of Elyria.
All Ohio Train and Toy Company, located adjacent to Happy Valley and owned by Fundak, was able to avoid damage in its downstairs store, but did see damage to an upstairs storage area.
Jonathan Delozier can be reached at 440-647-3171 or @DelozierNews on Twitter.