ELYRIA — A fire at the East River Road Amtrak station is not likely to speed up any improvements to the site or any plans to move rail service to the Lorain County Transportation Center.
Amtrak has said improvements to the old station were long overdue because it does not meet Americans with Disabilities Act standards. But local officials are trying to negotiate bringing Amtrak service to the Depot Street location and any improvement projects to the East River Road station were put on hold pending those talks.
Marc Magliari, Amtrak spokesman, said he could not speculate on when the fire-damaged station would be repaired or replaced.
“Service will continue, and trains will stop at the platform. Customers just won’t be able to use the building for a while,” he said.
A call about smoke in the air shortly after midnight Friday led Elyria firefighters to discover the fire inside the station.
Elyria Fire Marshal Carl Keith said just one engine initially went to investigate the call that came in at 12:08 a.m., but upon seeing fire coming out of the windows of the buildings, an alarm for more firefighters to respond was sent out.
The two-story building was almost entirely engulfed.
“We did a very rough estimate of the building being worth $75,000 and the loss at least $25,000,” he said. “The basement is still intact, but the top floor is pretty much gone.”
Crews stayed at the station for more than three hours although the fire was knocked down pretty quickly.
The fire is still under investigation, but the preliminary investigation has ruled out foul play.
“The cause is difficult to determine at this time, but we believe it may have been electrical in nature,” Keith said. “Elyria police were on scene when we arrived and helped with the investigation and an investigator from Amtrak has been to the scene as well.”
Keith said trains were stopped from coming down the tracks for a short while as firefighters worked to put out the fire, but service resumed quickly.