November 25, 2014

Elyria
Cloudy
31°F
test

Elyria, Lorain firefighters contend with pair of blazes

Firefighters battled heavy winds Thursday as they rushed to contain a three-acre wildfire on the south side of Lorain and a blaze at an empty downtown Elyria warehouse.

BRUCE BISHOP / CHRONICLE
An Elyria firefighter sprays water onto the stucture at the site of the old county fairgrounds off Third Street in Elyria. More recently, the site was the former Riverview mobile home park. The side of the structure had its vinyl siding melt from the heat.
CHUCK HUMEL / CHRONICLE
Lorain firefighters wet down weeds during a field fire in a wetland area south of East 36th Street on Thursday in Lorain.

Lorain fire crews were called at 3:53 p.m. to douse flames feeding on 8- to 10-foot-tall grass at an East 36th Street marsh.

“Those reeds are all dried out, and that made the fire spread very quickly. One of the guys who was first in said it looked like the reeds were 40 feet tall,” Lorain Fire Capt. Tom Sultzer said.

Winds blowing at 20 to 25 mph fanned the flames and continually made the fire change direction, he said.

Sultzer said his first priority was to block the fire from spreading next door to Iglesia de Dios Pentecostal Church.

He sent 16 firefighters into the wetland area on three sides to try to corner the flames.

Investigators could not pinpoint the fire`s cause, but Lorain Assistant Fire Chief Roy Cochrane said it was too cold outside for it to have been natural.

A second fire shortly after 4 p.m. sent Elyria firefighters scrambling to the former Riverview Mobile Home Park and Lorain County fairgrounds on the 500 block of Third Street.

There, a storage warehouse burned, throwing oily black smoke from its asphalt roof into the air.

Elyria Assistant Fire Chief Tim Mitchell said the building was being torn down to prepare for the Riverbend housing development.

No one was inside the building when the fire started, and investigators did not comment on the cause.

The wind carried flames away from the building and over the Black River, and firefighters had to chase down several resulting brush fires until about 7 p.m., Mitchell said.

Contact Jason Hawk at 653-6264 or jhawk@chroniclet.com.