Fire rips through historic downtown Hobart building; Police officer injured in crash responding to blaze

HOBART, Ind. (WLS) -- A huge fire tore through a historic building downtown Hobart, Ind. Tuesday night.

The building was home to a tanning salon and there's a lot to clean up on a busy section of downtown.

No one was seriously injured in the fire, although a police officer responding to the fire was injured.

Large flames and heavy smoked poured out of the historic building.

"One of the biggest we have had downtown," said City of Hobart Fire Marshall Joshua Magner. "One of the biggest in the city in a very long time."

Crews from several departments used every resource possible to extinguish the blaze at the corner of Center and Third streets.

First responders ran inside of the structure around 9 p.m. Tuesday to evacuate the building, which has apartments and businesses. Officials said nearly a dozen people were escorted out just moments before the fire spread.

"The building was filled with smoke and trying to knock on doors to get everyone safely out," said Hobart Mayor Brian Snedecor.

A Hobart police officer crashed his car while trying to get to the scene to help get residents out of the building.

"He truly must have had an angel in that car because the car was destroyed besides the driver compartment," Mayor Snedecor said. "

Crews believe the fire started inside of the Copper Penny Tanning Salon.

"It was pretty bad," said Eric Moreau, the owner of the tanning salon. "There was a lot of smoke and a lot of flames

Moreau owns the salon with his girlfriend. Just moments before the fire, Moreau closed up shop and came back to find the building engulfed in flames.

"It is a pretty big loss," Moreau said. "Luckily there were no lives lost."

Magner said the building nearly collapsed and is thankful for the quick response.

"We probably flowed over a million gallons of water in there and that is a lot of weight," Magner said. "That can push the walls right out."

The injured officer is recovering at a hospital and is expected to be okay.
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