Sunday, November 19, 2017 Elyria 38°


Cause of North Ridgeville car shop fire ruled accidental


NORTH RIDGEVILLE — A fire that caused an estimated $200,000 in damage to a home-based automotive business over the weekend has been ruled accidental in nature.

An investigation determined that the stubborn fire, which about 25 firefighters battled for close to three hours Friday night, began when the owner and operator of the shop was welding a piece of metal onto a car.

“Something caught fire and began to smolder, and it went from there,” Assistant Fire Chief Scott Bement said Tuesday.

The fire was so intense that firefighters used foam and water, which was being poured on the blaze at the rate of 1,500 gallons a minute, Bement said.

“By nature, an automotive shop is full of flammables, including acetylene tanks, transmission fluid, aerosol cans, and it was all burning,” Bement said. “All of those things feed a fire.”

North Ridgeville firefighters received mutual aid from fire departments in Elyria, North Olmsted, Olmsted Township and Olmsted Falls.

The shop at 36844 Chestnut Ridge Road was in a series of attached pole barn-type buildings ranging from 30 feet by 25 feet to 30 feet by 40-feet.

Owned and operated by James Molchan, the facility contained equipment ranging from tools and racks of transmissions to three hydraulic lifts used to elevate vehicles.

“Everything was lost,” Bement said. “Our estimates are that it was totaled.”

The fire did not damage the family home located in front of the automotive shop.

Once firefighters knew there was no one inside the work areas, the decision was made not to enter the buildings, Bement said.

“We were putting water in through an opening in the roof that had collapsed,” Bement said. “It was constructed of trusses and corrugated metal, and it was all caving in. We weren’t going to risk a life for stuff.”

The only injury suffered during the fire was a small burn on one of Molchan’s forearms, Bement said, and he was treated at the scene.

Contact Steve Fogarty at 329-7146 or

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