The Star Beacon; Ashtabula, Ohio

March 30, 2013

Clean-up to start soon at scene of Conneaut factory fire

By MARK TODD - mtodd@starbeacon.com
Star Beacon

CONNEAUT — Debris created by a massive factory fire last month could be excavated and hauled away starting next month, said Deanna Gates, Conneaut’s planning/zoning manager.

Clean-up work at the site of a blaze at the former Crawford Container was supposed to have started already, but a contractor hired by a property-owner to remove the mess ran into delays getting clearance from the Ohio Environmental Protection Agency, Gates said. Apparently asbestos was found among the twisted metal and charred beams, she said.

“(The contractor) is still waiting for the EPA,” she said.

As a result, the contractor recently requested, and received, a one-month extension on his municipal demolition permit, which means work could commence sometime in April, Gates said. Some permits from the county may also be required, officials have said.

The fire began early on the evening on Feb. 11 at the long-vacant factory on West Jackson Street, near Whitney Road. When fire trucks arrived, flames could be seen shooting out of every door and window, firefighters said.

Nearly all of the building, as long as a football field and 100 feet wide, was destroyed by the fire. Today, the site is filled with remnants of the metal roof and chunks of the wooden support beams. The abundance of wood used in the construction of the decades-old building accounted for the rapid and thorough burn, fire officials have said.

Little remained inside the building except for a few pieces of equipment used to manufacture metal containers, firefighters said.

Investigators, noting the lack of electrical service to the building, have called the fire “suspicious.” The state fire marshal’s office is investigating.