UPDATE: Overnight fire destroys VFW building in Cleveland
UPDATE: A 66-year-old veterans hall in Cleveland is now gone. The Veterans of Foreign Wars post on North Ocoee Street caught fire overnight on Monday.
When firefighters arrived at the Cleveland VFW, they saw thick smoke and flames. The fire was so intense it caused the roof to cave in.
"All we could see was flames coming up through the roof," Ernie Griggs described.
As investigators determine what caused the fire, the veterans' community is leaning on each other to figure out what's next for the organization.
A firefighter saved a precious memento and gave it back to the members.
"It says United States Navy retired," Ernie Griggs read.
Griggs a board member with the VFW holds the spared brass medallion, it's one of the few mementos that was not destroyed in the fire.
The VFW post housed hundreds of pictures and artifacts from area veterans, including Cleveland's Medal of Honor recipient Paul Huff.
"We can replace the building, but we can't replace people, and we can build new memories and momentous. so we'll survive," Griggs said.
It took firefighters about nine hours to put out remaining hot spots. Crews could not attack the flames from the inside because the roof had collapsed.
"It's a very large building, it had a tin roof and when the roof came in, the roof covered some of the embers and the fire underneath, and it's very difficult to get to," Captain Joe Greenleaf, of the Cleveland Fire Department, said.
The VFW Post 2598 was built in the early 50's, it has more than 230 active members who used the facility to meet with other veterans and provide resources for those who have served. Now that they don't have a place to go, they'll have to lean on each other.
"We're just kind of holding onto each other and shedding a tear every now and then, but we're going to come back," Griggs said.
As for this medallion, Griggs said he'll hold onto it, as a reminder that this community will rebuild.
"I may not even clean it up; I might just leave it as it is as a memento what possibly could've happened," he said.
VFW officials said the building is a total loss. Investigators were called in, to learn more about what could've started this fire.
VFW board members tell Channel 3 they own the property and plan to rebuild soon. They were in the process of breaking ground on a new memorial, but those plans are now postponed.
ORIGINAL STORY: The VFW on North Ocoee Street in Cleveland is a complete loss as firefighters continue to battle hot spots trapped under the collapsed tin roof.
The blaze began around 11:30 Monday night.
Cleveland Police tell Channel 3 no one was inside at the time.
There are no reports of any injuries.
Stay with Channel 3 as this story continues to develop.