Victorian home gutted by fire

NORWALK Doug Berry, co-owner of Berry's Restaurant, is homeless. A Sunday night fire
Sandusky Register Staff
May 24, 2010

NORWALK

Doug Berry, co-owner of Berry's Restaurant, is homeless.

A Sunday night fire left his home a charred shell of what the Victorian once was.

With losses totaling more than $300,000, Berry said he is coping with the loss of his home and possibly the loss of at least one of his cats.

"I have no idea what could've happened," he said Monday. "I live alone and don't smoke, burn candles or incense."

Berry was home most of the day, left mid-evening and returned that night only to switch vehicles before driving to the restaurant.

About 30 minutes after he left his house, Berry said he heard sirens, but didn't pay attention until his mother called.

By the time he arrived at his house, the fire had claimed the home that neighbors referred to as one of Norwalk's most beautiful Victorians.

Berry occupied the sprawling Victorian home located at 131 East Main St. along with his four cats, only one of which has been found alive.

Built in 1878, the home had intricate oak woodwork throughout the house that seemed to fuel the fire. A four-story tower stood its ground over the property and more than 60 windows welcomed the sunlight. The fire's fury claimed 58 of those windows in the matter of a few hours.

The fire broke out at about 11:54 p.m. Sunday. A neighbor phoned 911. Help responded a few minutes later.

Berry said the fire marshall remained on the scene for the next eight hours to observe attempts to douse the flames.

Berry's mother, Shirley Berry, said the fire was tamed at about 1 a.m., but rekindled at about 4 or 5 a.m. in the attic.

To Berry, the whole event is unbelievable. He said he feels that his life for the past 15-20 years has been transformed into a gutted, blackened and broken world.

Unsure of the causes and the condition of his feline companions, he is temporarily residing with his parents, awaiting a meeting with a contractor and insurance adjuster.

The Norwalk Fire Chief Robert Bores did not return calls Monday seeking comment. No one else at the fire station could comment. The cause of the fire is still under investigation.