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Sandwich shop leveled after July blaze

Cause still under investigation

YOUNGSTOWN — Devin Boss, owner of the former Four Hundred 22 Deli, 1990 McCartney Road, which was destroyed by a 9:13 a.m. July 9 fire, said the first thing that caused him concern was when his security company notified him that there had been a power outage at the building.

He said power outages were somewhat common. But he became much more concerned when his security company notified him that there was an “intrusion.”

What he realized later was that the “intrusion” was Youngstown firefighters forcing their way inside to fight a devastating fire.

“The moment I walked up (to the building), they were like, ‘total loss,'” Boss said of Youngstown fire officials.

The fire was devastating to Boss because the business involved his “life’s savings,” he said. He does not know what started the fire and how much his insurance will cover, but he knows it will not cover a total rebuild.

He has not decided yet whether to rebuild the restaurant, which sold sandwiches such as Philly

cheesesteak, corned beef, gyros and the Polish Boy, which is, kielbasa, coleslaw and french fries.

Boss said he enjoyed those types of sandwiches on trips to Cleveland and “brought them here.” He also owned the building.

“They are telling me it is under investigation still,” he said of fire officials. “I am in limbo right now. I have no idea what funds would be available right now to rebuild anything.”

Boss said the business did really well its first year but business dropped off when COVID-19 hit and eating in the dining room was not possible. But it was “doing a steady business” at the time of the fire. He carried out the renovations himself that were needed to start up the business. It employed four to six people over the three years it was open.

POWER TROUBLE

Boss said he wonders whether the electrical issues that were occurring that day are to blame for starting the fire.

He said he received indications from his alarm company during the morning that the power was going off and on, which he said is not very unusual. “I didn’t think anything of it,” Boss said.

Eventually the security company called him to say the building had been “compromised. Come to find out, that was the firefighters getting themselves in.”

The fire was reported at at 9:14 a.m., and firefighters arrived eight minutes later. The first employees of the day usually arrive at about 10 a.m., he said.

He also helps his father-in-law run the restaurant next door, called a Taste of Seafood and More.

A Youngstown fire report states that the fire caused $114,260 in damage to the building and $25,000 in damage to the contents.

A passerby reported the fire. When firefighters arrived, they found “heavy smoke” coming from cracks in the soffit, “door frames on all four sides.” When firefighters forced open a door, there was “gray smoke present all the way to the floor.”

Firefighters reported having “concerns about the integrity of the joist assembly and roof dictates defensive operations at this time.” A fluorescent light fixture fell, striking a firefighter in the head. Sections of the heating and air conditioning system also fell to the ground, the fire report states. A rooftop heating and cooling system was involved in fire and started to sink into the building about 9:45 a.m.

The street department brought equipment to open up walls at 11:24 a.m., and a determination was made later to “do a complete demolition of building from two sides. Firefighters from different stations “rotated” into and out of the scene for rehab “due to the heat and exertion levels.” The building was declared a “total loss.” A section of one wall was standing when firefighters left the scene a little after 1 p.m.

The fire was thought to have started in the dining room, but its source was “undetermined,” the report states.

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