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Published: Thursday, 4/13/2006

Blaze damages empty central-city structure

A two-alarm fire heavily damaged a vacant commercial building at Ashland Avenue and West Bancroft Street last night.

The blaze started about 9:20 p.m. on the second floor of the building at 2228 Ashland Ave., fire Lt. Ke Goolsby said.

When firefighters arrived, flames were coming through the roof, Lieutenant Goolsby said. They quickly called a second alarm and took a defensive approach to the blaze, he said.

The back portion of the building and an interior ceiling collapsed early in the blaze.

Fire officials believe the fire was set intentionally in the center of the building. Investigators were called to the scene.

The fire grew so hot inside the brick building that it was difficult for firefighters to attack the blaze. "It made it almost impossible to get at," Lieutenant Goolsby said.

The fire did not spread to any nearby buildings.

No damage estimate was available last night, and nobody was hurt.

The vacant building most recently housed Thermal Engineering, a refrigerant recovery manufacturer.

Until 1993, it served as the Ashland Avenue plant of Lott Industries, which works with the Lucas County Board of Retardation to help find jobs for people who are physically or mentally impaired. Prior to that, McKesson Co., a hospital supply company, used the building.

Christina Lowery, 18, smelled the smoke while she was driving nearby on Central Avenue and went to see what was on fire.

"I thought it was my car at first," she said of smelling the smoke. "Before we saw the flames, we smelled the smoke. But when we got here, it was all blaze - flames everywhere."

Oregon, Rossford, and Sylvania fire departments were asked to cover Toledo fire stations and assist on calls throughout the city under mutual-aid agreements among the communities.

Firefighters were on scene until early this morning, and the building is expected to be razed.

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