BELPRE - No one was injured in the fire that destroyed a corner of a business at 201 Ayers Blvd. Friday morning, officials said.
Several employees were reportedly inside the building, which housed several businesses, including National Carports and Riverview Contracting, when it caught fire, said Dunham Township Volunteer Fire Department Chief Ernie Hoschar.
Everyone escaped the building unharmed, thanks to the proper placement and maintenance of smoke alarms throughout the building, Hoschar said. The building, owned by local businessman Randy Williams, will require at least $40,000 of repairs before it can be used again, Hoschar said.
The fire’s difficult-to-battle location, between the primary ceiling and the roof of the back corner of the building at 201 Ayers Blvd., meant that the drop-down ceiling had to be forced through so firefighters could reach the source of the blaze. Insulation hangs in the aftermath of the struggle to get the fire out before it spread. (Photo by Gretchen Richards)
The cause of the fire remains under investigation, although officials believe it may have been started accidentally by an electrical fault inside the building, Hoschar said.
Employees reported smelling smoke shortly before the alarms were activated, Hoschar said. An orderly evacuation was carried out before the fire department was called.
The fire was reported around 10:20 a.m. to the Dunham Township Volunteer Fire Department, Hoschar said. The Belpre Volunteer Fire Department and the Little Hocking Volunteer Fire Department provided mutual aid for the incident, Hoschar said.
The structure is situated off Ohio 7 near the Belpre city limits.
The fire was contained to the rear corner of the building, but was difficult to fight due to its location, Hoschar said. The fire was situated between the roof of the building and the primary ceiling, which was above the drop-down ceiling, he said.
Firefighters had to work their way through the drop-down ceiling to reach the primary ceiling before they could fight the fire, Hoschar said.
Firefighters performed an interior attack and were able to use a nearby hydrant to provide the water for a ceiling-based fight, Hoschar said.
The majority of the damage was contained to the back corner of the building, Hoschar said. The rest of the building sustained minor smoke and water damage from the fire, he said.
The fire was declared under control after 15 minutes, but hot spot battles and the investigation took an additional hour and a half to finish, Hoschar said.
A total of 24 firefighters from the three volunteer departments responded to the scene, including two firefighters from Dunham Township Volunteer Fire Department who saw their first live fire at the incident, Hoschar said.
The teamwork among the three units, as well as proper smoke alarm installation and maintenance, is credited as the primary reason why firefighters were able to keep the fire contained to one section, Hoschar said.