Wednesday, Nov 22, 2017
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One dead in Napoleon junkyard fire

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Napoleon Fire-Rescue at a junkyard fire on East Riverview Avenue in Napoleon.

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NAPOLEON — One person is dead after a heavy fire and explosion Thursday at a Napoleon junkyard.

A witness said dark, thick smoke rose high above Hogrefe Auto Parts, 690 E. Riverview Ave. following the fire.

Firefighters responded about 10:59 a.m. to roughly three cars fully engulfed on the property. They extinguished the blaze within 20 minutes or so, Napoleon fire Chief Clayton O'Brien said.

Chief O'Brien said firefighters then found the victim, whom they have not yet identified. He declined to say where the body was located.

“Initially it was a pretty heavily involved fire. My crew was able to keep it right to those vehicles,” Chief O'Brien said.

State Fire Marshal officials are aiding in the investigation. A cause of the fire was not immediately determined.

Henry County auditor records list Gary Hogrefe as the property owner.

Server Omar Ponce de Leon, 33, was about to open the nearby restaurant, Azul Tequila, when the fire occurred.

“The only thing we heard was a big explosion. We can feel it inside the building,” Mr. Ponce de Leon said.

He then went outside and saw the large cloud of black smoke. About three minutes later, he heard a second explosion.

Mr. Ponce de Leon described the fire as intense and immediately worrying.

Napoleon, a city of roughly 8,500 people in Henry County, is 40 miles southwest of Toledo.

A listed phone number for the junkyard business is disconnected. The Henry County coroner was away from the office Thursday and could not be reached.

Contact Ryan Dunn at rdunn@theblade.com, 419-724-6095, or on Twitter @RDunnBlade.

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