July 25, 2014

Elyria
Mostly sunny
78°F
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Lorain cookout turns into fire

LORAIN — A charcoal camping grill that was lit near a gas can was the likely cause in a fire Wednesday at an apartment building off Herbert Drive.

Johnny Mack, 56, said he was lighting the grill on the patio of his first-floor apartment about 4:30 p.m. to cook some hamburger patties when suddenly a gas can that was nearby became lit.

“I’m trying to fight it with that hose over there, but before I knew it the fire went up through the rafters,” Mack said.
Most of the flames were underneath the roof’s shingles on the second floor, but heavy smoke billowed from the building and could be seen along Cooper Foster Park Road. Firefighters had to use chain saws to cut into the roof of the building to find the flames.

“The style of that structure has a mansard roof, and they hide void spaces, so we had to cut a trench across the roof of the building,” said Assistant Lorain fire Chief Roy Cochran.

Cochran said the top two apartments received the most damage from the blaze, but the bottom two were also made unlivable.

“There are a lot of elderly residents with health problems, so they couldn’t go back there,” Cochran said. He estimated the damage to be about $50,000 to the structure and about $25,000 to its contents.

Mack said it was a scary situation and he feels bad about his neighbors’ losing their apartments because of him.

“My neighbors aren’t very happy with me right now,” he said.

Contact Adam Wright at 329-7129 or awright@chroniclet.com.