Tuesday, September 11, 2001

5-alarm fire guts Northside business

By Susan Vela
The Cincinnati Enquirer

        A five-alarm fire destroyed the eastern portion of Willard Industries in Northside Monday evening, causing an estimated $700,000 damage to the area that functioned as the aluminum foundry's warehouse.

        Supervisor Bob Hater speculated that an electrical problem in one of the drying ovens ignited nearby packing material.

        But, “it's strictly speculation at this point,” he said.

        Seven employees were on the property, 1253 Knowlton St., when the fire started at about 5 p.m.

        Employee Tony Oden was the first to spot the flames. He was in the central portion of the building, where the aluminum foundry be gins. “It spread quickly,” he said.

        Flames were shooting 30 feet out of the roof when firefighters arrived. The bulk of the eastern section collapsed. The fire had to be fought from outside with water sprays directed from four aerial ladders onto hot spots for hours. No one was hurt.

        “It's as bad as we get,” District Fire Chief Jerry Lautz said. “A five-alarm fire is as high as they go. (But) it's property damage.”

        Mr. Hater was driving to his home in western Hamilton County when he spotted the huge cloud of smoke.

        His phone was ringing as he walked in the door.

        The $700,000 in damage that he estimated is the bare minimum, he said. The fire spared the actual foundry, he said.


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