The Star Beacon; Ashtabula, Ohio

Local News

July 18, 2012

Fire destroys pallet factory

Fuel-tank explosion blamed for starting Monroe inferno

MONROE TOWNSHIP — A late-morning fire at Hiddenview Pallets, 3099 Route 7, destroyed a production building and demanded the resources of at least seven area fire departments.

Joe Shetler, owner of the business, said the fire originated around a diesel engine in the pole-building structure. He said the building was 6,800 square feet and was used as a factory for pallets and crates. The business has operated at the location since 1998, Shetler said.

The factory employed five workers, all of whom made it safely out of the building.

Jason Ferlingere, a neighbor who lives on Scribner Road, said he saw someone come running into the yard and yelling “fire, call 911” as flames erupted from the structure, which is behind Ferlingere’s house. Several people used their cell phones to call in the blaze, which was reported at 10:46 a.m.

Ferlingere said there was an explosion inside the building.

“The whole building went down,” Ferlingere said. “The (diesel) fuel tank had exploded. It happened right away. That’s what kicked it off.  ... You could have seen (the black smoke) from space. I kept yelling for them to get out of the building.”

Shetler said all of his employees escaped the fire safely. He said most of the business’ inventory is stored outside the structure. He could not place a dollar value on the loss.

Departments from Kingsville, Sheffield, Pierpont, Plymouth, Conneaut, Andover and Monroe responded with manpower and equipment. Water had to be hauled to the site from the Monroe Fire Department’s pond on Route 7. Dozens of firefighters were on the scene and EMTs monitored their vital signs as they fought the fire in 90-plus degree heat.

Monroe took the lead in the investigation. Chief Jason Coy was not available for comment after the fire.

 

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