Wednesday, Jun 29, 2016
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Police & Fire

Salvage crews flatten remains of warehouse

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A piece of wrecking equipment claws its way into the remains of the burned-out warehouse.

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Toledo firefighters drenched hot spots yesterday as city crews razed a warehouse in West Toledo destroyed the day before by a two-alarm fire.

The accidental blaze caused about $300,000 damage to the three-story building and adjacent structures at West Bancroft Street and Auburn Avenue, Battalion Chief Gary Martin said.

The warehouse had no value and the land was worth about $37,000, according to the chief and Lucas County real estate records.

Authorities said Greg Vnuck of Toledo owns the uninsured building and was working inside it when it caught fire Saturday.

The owner said he was removing toilets and plumbing, cutting them out with a torch, when part of the roof collapsed. He moved to another area and later noticed smoke coming from the area he previously was working in and found it heavily involved in fire, Deputy Chief Bob Metzger said.

Tom Kroma, city neighborhoods director, watched yesterday as an excavator atop piles of brick and debris pulled down damaged sections of the building. "The owner was gutting it and in the process of getting the front portion of this building torn down. The owner intended to reuse the back two buildings," he said, adding that Mr. Vnuck planned to put a wood shop in one of the buildings.

Mr. Vnuck bought the building from its former owner, who has been in court over the site and who shouldn't have sold it because it was a nuisance property, Mr. Kroma said.

He said part of the building was supposed to be down by the end of August per an order by Toledo Municipal Court Judge C. Allen McConnell.

He said after Mr. Vnuck gutted the structure, he had a contract to take down the front. Mr. Kroma said Mr. Vnuck worked on the building every day and removed several semi-trailer loads of tires from the site. "He was extremely proactive with it. He had the best of intentions to develop it," Chief Metzger said.

The warehouse was once used for manufacturing vacuum cleaners and holiday decorations and for storing boats and vehicles. It has sat vacant for at least a decade and was on Mayor Carty Finkbeiner's "Dirty Dozen" list. Buildings on the list contain numerous code violations that present an immediate risk to the health, safety, and welfare of Toledoans.

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