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Barnesville bowling alley destroyed by fire, community digging deep to help

BARNESVILLE — A longtime village business was destroyed by fire Monday morning, leaving many residents shocked and saddened by the loss and digging into their pockets to help.

A passerby noticed smoke rising from the front of Chestnut Lanes bowling alley and called 911 at 11:01 a.m., according to Fire Chief Tim Hall. Firefighters arrived quickly, but the blaze already had done extensive damage.

Hall said it started in the front corner of the structure near the main entrance, but investigators had not determined the cause of the fire by around 2 p.m.

“No one was there at the time,” Hall said, noting that the business was closed when the flames broke out.

As a result, no one was injured, but Hall ruled the building a total loss.

A fundraising effort to help owners A.J. and Becky Corder recover that was launched on gofundme.com early Monday evening had nearly reached its $25,000 goal by 8:30 p.m. Started by Amy Merhige, sister of Becky Corder, the effort had raised $24,215 through 237 donations.

Hall said fire crews knocked the flames down quickly. In addition to portions of the structure that were burned, he said smoke and water used to fight the flames damaged just about everything inside.

Hall’s department received assistance from the Cumberland Trail Fire District and the SOmerton Volunteer Fire Department, as well as from village police and the municipal water department.

“We had good help from our neighboring departments, local police and even our water department,” the chief said.

A representative of the Ohio State Fire Marshal’s Office already was at the scene by early afternoon. He and Hall were inspecting the remnants of the business and looking for a cause of the blaze.

Hall said A.J. and Becky Corder, owners of the business, had been at the scene but were not available to comment Monday afternoon.

He noted that the fact that the entire exterior of the building was covered in tin made the fire difficult to fight, but he said there were no other complications.

“It’s a longtime establishment,” Hall said while reflecting on the business’ history and noting it was the first place he ever bowled as a youth.

Many other community members took to social media to express sympathy and support for the Corders.

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