The Star Beacon; Ashtabula, Ohio

February 12, 2013

A fire in the night

Departments from across area battle big blaze in Conneaut

By MARK TODD - mtodd@starbeacon.com
Star Beacon

CONNEAUT — Firefighters from several departments teamed to battle a blaze that leveled a vacant factory building Monday night.

The former Crawford Container building at 600 W. Jackson St., was a gigantic pile of burning embers and twisted sheet metal a little more than one hour after firefighters were dispatched to the scene at 6:40 p.m.

No injuries have been reported, said Conneaut Fire Station 1 Capt. Tim Zee. Cause of the fire is under investigation, he said.

The fire, whipped by gusting winds, make short work of the old, cavernous structure. "The strong wind definitely hampered us," he said.

Another factor was the decades-old building's wooden floors and supports, Zee said. Witnesses said flames shot dozens of feet into the air. Thick smoke blanketed the neighborhood.

Firefighters and equipment from several neighboring departments — including Ashtabula, Ashtabula Township, North Kings-ville, Sheffield, Pierpont and West Springfield, Pa. — helped at the scene. Ashtabula Township's aerial truck sprayed water from atop its tower.

The street was sealed off to traffic between Whitney Road and Chestnut Street.

The building, which abuts Norfolk Southern Railway tracks, has been empty for many years. It was last used to fashion metal containers

Firefighters could not immediately speak to what — if anything — was stored in the building or where the fire may have originated.

Three electrical lines serviced the big building.

Vandals have been a problem in the past. In May 2012, someone set a fire inside that caused $10,000 damage.

"We're real lucky someone caught it in time or it could have been a pretty large fire," Conneaut Assistant Fire Chief Steve Sanford said after that blaze had been doused.