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Published: Thursday, 7/2/2009

Fires damage Monroe church, motel; 1 hurt

MONROE - Monroe Township firefighters battled two blazes that started less than 90 minutes apart Tuesday night and just around the corner from one another, authorities said.

The fires were reported at 8:09 p.m. Tuesday at the Gateway Baptist Church, 6146 East Dunbar Rd., and at 9:22 p.m. at Motel 7, 15390 South Dixie Hwy., said Calvin Schmitt, a fire inspector for the Monroe Township Volunteer Fire Department.

Rodney Wilson, 44, suffered second-degree burns and smoke inhalation in the motel fire and was admitted to St. Vincent Mercy Medical Center in Toledo, Mr. Schmitt said. A hospital spokesman said yesterday that she had no information about a person by that name.

Firefighters pulled Mr. Wilson to safety shortly after they arrived at the motel and found fire in Room 19. They evacuated the building and extinguished the blaze by 11:43 p.m., but not before it had spread to the roof, with damage estimated at $150,000.

The fire began in the bed area and was ruled accidental, Mr. Schmitt said. The exact cause was under investigation.

Firefighters were dispatched to the motel by fire crews who were fighting the church fire and saw smoke coming from the roof of the motel building just around the corner, the fire inspector said.

Firefighters arrived at the church and saw flames on the second floor of the two-story concrete-block building. They extinguished the fire by 12:10 a.m., by which time the roof was largely destroyed, Mr. Schmitt said.

The fire started in a second-floor storage area and was ruled accidental, with the exact cause under investigation. The church did not have fire insurance, the fire inspector said. He put the damage estimate at $100,000 or more.

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