Wednesday, July 17, 2019 Elyria 74°

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Six fires strike in Lorain within 24 hours


LORAIN — Six fires started in Lorain between early Sunday morning and early Monday morning. While no firefighters or civilians were injured and the majority of the fires were contained in a relatively short amount of time, Capt. Jonathon George said the call volume was unusual.

George started his shift that day at 7 a.m., and the rest of the crew started at 7:30 a.m. By 9:45 a.m. they were out in the 1000 block of West 34th Street for a residential fire in a bedroom. The residents had been burning incense, with the end of the incense stick reportedly placed in a hole in the wall. As the incense burned down, the stick fell into the wall, causing a fire. George said the fire was small and contained quickly.

After a couple hours’ break, firefighters responded to a call in the 1000 block of West Erie Avenue for a basement fire about 11:45 a.m. That fire also was contained relatively quickly, George said. The cause of the fire is still undetermined, though it did start on a couch in the basement. He said residents were home at the time but got out safely.

“They heard the smoke detector and alerted us, got everybody out,” he said.

Later in their shift, the firefighters responded to four more calls, in close succession.

The first was at 12:54 a.m. Monday in the 3000 block of Amherst Avenue for a large shed on fire.

“It pretty much totaled the shed, and the heat from the shed fire actually melted siding off the rear of the house,” George said.

He said crews were on scene for about two minutes when they received a call for a separate structure fire in the 500 block of West 14th Street. The call was for the old Polish Legion of American Veterans, which has been vacant for the past 15 years, according to former Lorain City Clerk of Courts Steve Bansek.

“That one took a while,” George said. “It was a challenge because being an abandoned building with a lot of static load on the roof, it wasn’t really safe for us to go too far in aggressively … so we were slowly pulling the ceiling down and extinguishing (it).”

He said crews had the scene mostly under control by 2:11 a.m., but the last unit didn’t clear the scene until 3:30 a.m., staying behind to extinguish small hot spots and embers.

“PLAV was a challenge just because it was abandoned for so long, it’s always dangerous going into a place like that,” George said. “… You don’t really know what you’re getting into being abandoned that long.”

George said there didn’t appear to be anyone living in the structure and the cause of the fire is under investigation. Because the call out for that fire was so close to when crews were working on other incidents, mutual aid was used. The initial response to the PLAV fire was from Elyria and Sheffield, until Lorain units were able to be diverted to the scene, he said.

Shortly after crews got the PLAV building under control, they received a call at 2:34 a.m. for a trash fire at the Polish American Club, 701 W. 17th St. He said someone had caught trash on fire on the south side outside the building, but the fire did not reach the club.

The last fire of the night was reported to fire crews while they were on scene at the Polish American Club, by a bystander about 2:44 a.m. for a vacant house in the 600 block of West 14th Street.

“Something had caught fire at the base, right up against the house, and it caught the back of the home on fire,” George explained. “At that time we contacted (Lorain police) because obviously that seemed pretty suspicious that we had three fires that occurred within a couple blocks of each other.”

All of the fires from Sunday night and Monday morning remain under investigation, but it is expected the fire at the vacant house on West 14th Street was intentionally set.

He said the last units returned to station about 3:30 a.m., with their shifts ending around four hours later.

“All things considered, it went pretty smooth,” George said. “It was a bit of a challenge, but we were able to adjust and everything worked out.”

Contact Carissa Woytach at 440-329-7245 or
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