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KILLBUCK -- The June 7 fire that ripped through a Main Street home and business has been ruled accidental.
Firefighters were called to 240 S. Main St. at 5:01 p.m. They arrived within minutes to find the fire had made its way through the roof. Heavy black smoke was the evidence of burning petroleum products, said Killbuck Township Fire Chief Keith Mohler.
The fire, he said, started when sparks cutting metal on a van inside the business ignited fuel on the floor. The van was located in the bay closest to the residence, which was attached.
Although there were employees inside the business, no one was inside the residential part of the structure, and the family dog was rescued by owner Jeremy Scheetz, who said he was walking down the nearby alley when the fire broke out inside his business, Scheetz Recycling.
Between 30 and 40 firefighters responded, said Mohler, noting their job was complicated by the presence of old tires, metals and 55-gallon drums of old fuel and oil inside the business. Additionally, the collapse of a steel roof made it difficult to fully extinguish the fire onto which it fell.
Mohler said firefighters started with an exterior attack, but eventually started to go inside the residence until explosions drove them back outside. A favorable wind direction made efforts to prevent the fire from spreading to nearby structures unnecessary, he said.
Nevertheless, the structural problems and presence of immeasurable amounts of fuel kept firefighters working through the night Wednesday, June 7, into Thursday morning, even with the help of Killbuck Village and Township crews who responded with backhoes to enable a better attack on the buried fire.
Their efforts were made even more challenging by passers-by and bystanders who gathered in the area.
"There were some people driving over hoses," said Mohler. He added the practice can not only damage the hoses, but can compromise the safety of firefighters in the event pressure is lost.
It's also illegal, added Richland Township Fire Chief Melissa Wells, reminding the public of the need to listen to orders of first responders and stay back in the safety zone to prevent a secondary emergency.
She also stressed the importance of slowing down and moving over to allow safe passage of responders to a call.
All were reported back in quarters at the fire department by 9:26 p.m.; however, they were called back out at 9:52 p.m., 11:09 p.m., 3:40 a.m. and, finally, at 7:02 a.m.
Despite the many challenges and several return trips to the property to extinguish the rekindled fire, Mohler said the effort to fight and contain the fire was a good one.
In the wake of the fire, Jeremy Scheetz said he and his family will relocate to a home they rent just outside of the village.
Providing mutual aid to the Killbuck department were first responders from the East Holmes Fire and EMS Co., Western Holmes Fire District, Walhonding Valley, Richland Township and Prairie Township fire departments.
Reporter Christine Pratt can be reached at 330-674-5676 or email@example.com.