BINGHAM — A fire late Sunday destroyed a variety store and gas station in a nearly 100-year-old building in Bingham.

The cause of the blaze at Tracey’s Variety at 306 Main St. could not be determined as of Monday, according to officials.

Chief Scott Lawyerson of the Bingham Fire Department said Monday crews responded to the fire at about 10:30 p.m. No one was inside the two-story building when firefighters arrived, according to the chief.

“We arrived on scene to a smoke-filled building with smoke coming out of the eaves,” Lawyerson said. “We found where the fire originated and got the first floor knocked down.”

He said firefighters initially thought the fire was under control until they stepped outside to observe the smoke and noticed it getting heavier.

A crane was brought in to remove the building’s steel roof so firefighters could get to the flames, according to Lawyerson.

The office of State Fire Marshal was called to the scene. Lawyerson said an investigation showed the fire’s cause could not be determined, but it appeared to have begun close to a chimney near a small storage space that contained electrical equipment.

“They couldn’t uncover what started it,” Lawyerson said. “It’s an older building with the chimney boxed in, so it was hidden. The air gap around the box is where the fire (was able to) crawl up outside of the chimney.”

The chimney was not a factor in starting the fire, according to Lawyerson, who said the Fire Marshal’s Office had ruled the fire an accident.

Some of the damage Monday to the roof and rear of Tracey’s Variety at 306 Main St. in Bingham. The variety store and gas station was destroyed by fire late Sunday. Rich Abrahamson/Morning Sentinel Buy this Photo

Investigators at the Fire Marshal’s Office could not be reached Monday for more information.

Lawyerson said the last employee had left the store about 30 minutes before the fire was reported.

“The building is a total loss,” he said. “Even though it’s still standing, it’s not going to be usable.”

Because of the gasoline pumps, extra precautions were taken when fighting the blaze, according to the chief. Main Street (Route 201) was closed while firefighters were at the scene.

“We had to block it off, being a service station with gas pumps out front,” Lawyerson said. “It was one of our really big concerns. We worked really hard to try to keep the heat and anything from getting to the pumps.”

He added that while extra safety measures and equipment are employed with gas pumps, “you never know if one of them fails.”

“We thought it was best to keep everybody as far back as we could,” Lawyerson said, “except for those of us fighting it.”

Diane Pooler, who lives across the street from Tracey’s Variety, said she watched the fire from her house.

“The fire trucks were right there at 10:30 (p.m.), and I really couldn’t see much,” she said. “I looked out at first and thought it was the old Grange Hall. I then saw it was Tracey’s. It’s a total loss. Hopefully, she’s got enough to rebuild.”

Diane Pooler looks out the window from which she filmed a fire Sunday night at Tracey’s Variety at 306 Main St. in Bingham. Pooler lives across the street from the variety store and gas station. Rich Abrahamson/Morning Sentinel Buy this Photo

Attempts to reach the owner Monday through Tracey’s Variety’s Facebook page were not successful.

Lawyerson and Pooler said the destroyed building has been around for close to century.

“It’s a really old building. My guess is between 80 and 100 years old,” Lawyerson said. “It used to be a service station, and it’s gone through some hands since then. I believe Tracey’s had it since 2005.”

Firefighters from Solon and North Anson also responded to the fire. Lawyerson said many of those who fought the blaze were at the scene until about 5 a.m. Monday.

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