June 28, 2016

Partly sunny

Neon sign behind shop fire

MEDINA — Medina Sports Cards has set up shop at a temporary space on North Court Street after a neon sign caused the blaze that destroyed its location off Public Square last week.

Medina Fire Chief Bob Painter said it is unclear whether a neon sign in the front window was defective when the store at 110 W. Washington St. caught fire April 27 or whether it was caused by an electrical problem.

“Whether it was defective or it short-circuited, we’re not sure,” he said. “The owner’s insurance also pinpointed the sign.”

He said the fire traveled to the ceiling and dropped into card displays at the shop, causing an estimated $250,000 worth of damage to the store and about $250,000 in merchandise.

“It could be a lot higher because of the value of cards and collectibles in that type of place,” he said. “Insurance is going to have to go in there and evaluate.”

Owner Bill Panchak said Medina Sports Cards is up and running at 238 N. Court St. and slowly is gaining stock as shipments come in. Yu-Gi-Oh and Magic card tournaments are set for today, and on Friday a few kids were helping him put the place together.

“I’m just tackling each problem as it comes,” Panchak said. “Being here helps take my mind off the other place a little bit.”

He said his insurance company is assessing the damage at the Washington Street store. He is unsure whether any of the merchandise is salvageable.

“Between the fire, the smoke and the water, I don’t know what we’ll be able to get out of there,” he said.

The day after the fire, Hallock Properties offered him the North Court Street space at a price “too good to refuse,” he said, adding the shop should be there for the next four to six months.

“Hopefully it will help out Jimmy John’s (next door), too,” he said. “I hope it will end up being positive for everybody.”

A mother and her 7-year-old son in an apartment above the Washington Street business made it out safely, but the store was a total loss.

It was fortunate that stores on either side of Medina Sports Cards did not sustain damage, Painter said.

He said firefighters had just finished a drill, so many were nearby when it broke out at 9:15 p.m. It was under control within 10 minutes and out within 20 minutes.

“It was a smoother running fire, Medina Township and Erhart came in, and it could have been a lot worse with the store being on the square,” Painter said.

Contact Lisa Hlavinka at (330) 721-4048 or lhlavinka@medina-gazette.com.