December 20, 2014

Elyria
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Fire destroys Columbia Station family greenhouse

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KRISTIN BAUER/CHRONICLE

COLUMBIA STATION — When a fire broke out at their family business on Saturday night, John Frawley and his parents could only watch as it tore through and destroyed the greenhouse they had owned and operated for more than 40 years.

“It’s going to be hard,” Frawley said about continuing to run the business, which is his and his parents’ sole source of income.

The fire began about 6:30 p.m. Saturday at J&J Greenhouse at 26240 Folley Road in Columbia Station. Columbia Township Fire Chief Ray Anthony is unsure how the fire started but said that it commanded the use of seven fire departments from Columbia, Olmsted, Eaton, Liverpool and Carlisle townships, as well as from Strongsville and LaGrange.

Ohio Edison also responded to the call after half an hour to cut power to the greenhouse, according to Anthony.

No one was injured in the fire, which damaged most of the greenhouse, save for some burnt structural remains, but the incident rocked Frawley and his family.

“I’m numb,” Frawley said, explaining that he owned the greenhouse with his parents Jay and Jean, and together they have grown bulb crops like tulips and daffodils since 1969 — his entire life.

Frawley said he and his family were sitting down for dinner on Saturday when an alarm went off in the greenhouse adjacent to his parents’ home. After checking outside, Frawley said he saw part of the greenhouse was already in flames.

“We were pulling things out at first … but it was way bigger than we thought,” Frawley said, explaining that he and his parents tried initially to salvage the plants that they’ve been working on for weeks and planned to sell in the spring. However, the fire has made it difficult for Frawley to imagine selling anything in the near future.

“We’ll have to see what it looks like in the morning,” he said.

Contact Anna Merriman at 329-7245 or amerriman@chroniclet.com. Follow her on Twitter at @AnnaLMerriman.