ASHTABULA — The cause of a fire Sunday night in the 4600 block Main Avenue is being investigated by local and state officials.
City firefighters got a call at about 9:20 p.m., reporting a structure fire in the alleyway between Main and Park avenues. Upon arrival, they found a fire on the first floor in the rear of a commercial building at 4611 Main Ave.
“The building in question is group of nine attached buildings and has a basement, first and second floor, each roughly 5,000 feet in size,” Fire Capt. Stephen Chase said in a prepared statement Monday. “The fire building was located near the center of the group of nine buildings [and] that presented fire crews with a significant risk of fire spreading to adjoining structures on both sides.”
The firefighters’ job was made more difficult because of the presence of extremely large loads of combustible storage and debris, he said.
The first arriving fire company found heavy fire inside of a rear first-floor doorway with flames extending to the second floor. Shortly after arrival, firefighters discovered heavy fire on the second floor in the rear of the building.
“This fire rapidly vented through the roof with fire extending 30 feet or more above the roof line,” Chase said. “With fire above the roof line, fire crews were forced to withdrawal from the immediate area until First Energy was able to cut power to the surrounding area.”
Fire Chief Shawn Gruber said the building owner had violated fire codes for more than three years.
Firefighters from Ashtabula, Ashtabula Township, Conneaut, Geneva and Saybrook Township assisted city firefighters and were able to establish large-volume aerial streams of water at both the front and rear of the building.
“This combined attack, over a period of seven hours, utilizing approximately 800,000 gallons of water was able to contain the fire to the building of origin with only minor fire damage to an adjacent roof and some water damage to the surrounding structures,” Chase said.
City Manager Jim Timonere said he was very proud of the firefighters.
“Our fire department, with the assistance of several other departments in the county, did a tremendous job isolating the fire to this one building with minimal damage to the surrounding structures,” he said. “We are thankful for the mutual aid and most importantly that there were no injuries.”
The cause of the fire is under investigation by the Ashtabula Fire Department and the Ohio State Fire Marshal’s Office. Anyone with information is asked to contact the Ashtabula Fire Department.