- Associated Press - Wednesday, November 4, 2015

GOSPORT, Ind. (AP) - A fire that swept through businesses in a small central Indiana town overshadowed its municipal elections long after firefighters doused the flames.

Tuesday’s fire filled the air with the smell of burned debris as voters entered Gosport’s community center to talk about the overnight blaze and cast ballots in the town’s clerk-treasurer’s race.

Firefighters from four departments worked more than an hour to contain the fire, which heavily damaged a building housing a livestock feed store and a gun store in the town about 40 miles southwest of Indianapolis.

Clerk-Treasurer and volunteer firefighter Donnie Hall said he was helping douse the flames when he realized about 4:30 a.m. Tuesday that he had just 90 minutes before he had to open the polling station in the Owen County town of about 800 residents.

“I’ve got to get home and take a shower. I’ve got to get the polls open,” said Hall, a Republican who won re-election over Democrat Elizabeth Correll.

Gosport Volunteer Fire Department Chief Brian Leonard said Tuesday’s fire likely started near a utility room where a furnace was located, but the investigation is continuing.

He said Jim Fishel, a gunsmith who operated the gun store, was asleep in an upstairs loft when his dog barked, alerting him to the fire. He escaped with his dog.

Hours after later, agents from the U.S. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives searched through the fire debris to document the store’s inventory.

Back at the community center, election worker Ernie Arnold said he was worried about his 1917 12-gauge shotgun, a Winchester prototype he had left at the gun shop for repairs.

“I’m pretty sure it didn’t survive the fire,” Arnold told The Herald-Times (https://bit.ly/1NQ9Dtm ).

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Information from: The Herald Times, https://www.heraldtimesonline.com

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