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Published: Friday, 7/25/2008

2-alarm fire damages old Toledo plant

BY BRIDGET THARP
BLADE STAFF WRITER
Firefighters try to get to the source of the fire at the old Doehler-Jarvis plant on North Detroit.
Firefighters try to get to the source of the fire at the old Doehler-Jarvis plant on North Detroit.
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A stubborn, smoky two-alarm fire at the former Doehler-Jarvis plant, 5400 North Detroit Ave., kept Toledo firefighters occupied for hours last night as they struggled to get to the source and extinguish it.

The fire was reported about 7:15 p.m. in a part of the plant occupied by Resource Reclamation Toledo LLC. Shortly after, crews called for a second alarm. Firefighters reported blasts coming from inside the building.

"It was just black smoke, and it just got darker," said Kathy Clark, watching from the top of the grandstand at Raceway Park.

She first saw smoke about 7 p.m. "It got so it was very dark and a lot of smoke billowing out," she said. "Something was on fire. We were trying to figure out what it was."

A firefighter was overcome by heat about 9 p.m. and taken to Toledo Hospital. Her name and condition were unknown last night. No other injuries were reported.By 10 p.m., the fire was still burning, but it was 75 percent contained, Fire Chief Mike Wolever said. He estimated that it had affected about 10 percent of the building.

The fire started at the east end of the 700,000-square-foot plant in an unused area.

The cause was unknown, but employees noticed the smoke coming from building vents, Chief Wolever said.

The fire ignited a rubber conveyor system several hundred feet long that "goes from the ground up to the ceiling," Chief Wolever said. "So we've got problems with fire at lower levels all the way up to the ceiling."

Resource Reclamation, one of the building's occupants, recovers metals, plastics, and other recyclable commodities from auto shredder residue, according to its parent firm's Web site.

The burning rubber, plastic, and foam made it difficult at first to know where the fire was.

"The heavy smoke actually obliterated the fire, so it was difficult to find it - the seat of the fire," Chief Wolever said.

More than an hour after the fire was reported, crews struggled with finding a reliable water source and turning on the building's sprinkler system.

"Getting water supply adequate enough to fight the fire [was] a problem. Identifying the connector to the sprinkler system was a problem," the chief said. He said hydrants on the property couldn't supply enough water pressure, and hydrants at the street were more than a quarter-mile away. And shrubs had grown up around the sprinkler connector, he said.

Staff writer Mark Zaborney contributed to this report.

Contact Bridget Tharp at:

btharp@theblade.com

or 419-724-6061.



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