The Star Beacon; Ashtabula, Ohio

December 11, 2012

Bonniewood fire still under investigation

By WARREN DILLAWAY - warren@starbeacon.com
Star Beacon

ASHTABULA — The cause of a Saturday evening fire that destroyed an apartment at the Ashtabula Metropolitan Housing Authority Bonniewood Complex is still under investigation, Ashtabula Fire Chief Ron Pristera said.

A fire broke out late Saturday afternoon at 3228 Altman Court sending smoke high into the sky and taking the efforts of two fire departments to extinguish the blaze and control the scene.

“We are still trying to catch up with the tenants,” Pristera said.

He said the investigation could take some time.

“My guess is this is going to be under investigation for a couple of weeks,” Pristera said. “We are ultimately looking for the cause and origin of the fire.”

The Ashtabula Police Department also is  looking into circumstances surrounding the fire after receiving evidence from the fire department, said Ashtabula Police Chief Robert Stell. He said the department received evidence that might indicate a meth lab was operating at the home and are investigating.

“We’re still looking for people,” Stell said.

Firefighters from Ashtabula and Ashtabula Township were on the scene for several hours Saturday evening as people gathered to watch from surrounding apartments.

Pristera said the apartment was apparently empty when the fire occurred.

At least one neighbor said she was made aware of the fire by a man running through the area letting people know of the blaze.

A dozen Ashtabula firefighters battled the blaze from inside, outside and on the roof.

The apartment and contents were destroyed.