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Published: Saturday, 7/31/2004

2-alarm blaze levels abandoned warehouse

BY ELIZABETH A. SHACK
BLADE STAFF WRITER

Smoke billowed from an empty warehouse at 87 City Park Ave. yesterday as Toledo firefighters battled a two-alarm fire of undetermined origin.

The blaze was reported about 5:15 p.m. Fire officials sounded a second alarm at 5:58 p.m. because of the building's size.

The fire was brought under control at 7:35 p.m., but continued to smolder for several hours, fire Lt. Steve Starkloff said.

Inside the warehouse were wooden pallets, cardboard, plastic bags, and possibly gasoline, fire Lt. Ke Goolsby said.

Firefighters were concerned the blaze would spread to a two-story section of the building, but by 6:15 it was contained in the smaller one-story section.

The building at one time belonged to Strong Electric Co., which made spotlights and searchlights.

The plant opened in 1926. When the company moved in 1984, it offered the structure rent-free to any employer who would hire most of its 68 employees.

In the late 1980s a tire repair shop occupied the building.

Firefighters worried the roof would collapse, so they were fighting the blaze from outside, Lieutenant Goolsby said. Part of the roof had collapsed by 7 p.m. No one was hurt.

The fire department called for a crane to level the building.

Bill Benson, who owns Bill's City Auto across the street from the warehouse, reported the fire. He said there were not a lot of flames. "It was mostly smoke," he said.

He said that after firefighters broke down a metal garage door in the one-story section, they had to pull out stacks of wooden pallets that were blocking the entry.

Another garage door in the two-story section of the building was also blocked by pallets and by metal bins or cages.

In July, 2003, the abandoned building sustained about $150,000 damage in a fire.

Contact Elizabeth A. Shack at:

eshack@theblade.com

or 419-724-6050.



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