MOUNT VERNON — Firefighters from four departments battled a fire off of Green Valley Road this morning which destroyed the house and kept firefighters on the scene for hours.
A passerby noticed flames and dark smoke coming from the two-story home at 11250 Cochran Road and called 9-1-1 around 8:30 this morning.
Madison Township firefighter/paramedic Wayne Altman said he also noticed the fire as he was driving home from work along Ohio 229.
“I was coming down 229 when I saw the smoke,” Altman said as he watched firefighters battle the blaze. Altman pulled into the driveway to see if he could help. He said an unknown good Samaritan was knocking on doors to make sure everyone was out of the house.
Mount Vernon Fire Department engine companies were the first crews on the scene. Central Ohio Joint Fire District Chief Joe Porter and MVFD Assistant Chief Chris Menapace arrived as well.
While Porter acted as incident commander, Menapace established firefighting operations and directed crews into the house to search for anyone inside.
The entire rear of the house was entirely involved in fire as more fire crews were called from mutual aid departments to bring manpower, and firefighting equipment.
“When I arrived, it was already cranking back here,” Altman said pointing at the rear of the burning house. “It had already reached the attic.”
Fredericktown Community Fire District responded with 11 firefighters, an engine, grass truck and a tanker. Assistant Chief Larry Schunke quickly began working on establishing a water supply from a nearby pond.
Once search crews determined no one was inside, the fire crews concentrated on an exterior attack while trying to establish enough water pressure to suppress the fire.
An engine company and firefighters from the Big Walnut Fire District responded as well, to join the group of 30 firefighters fighting the fire which had already involved most of the structure.
Loud pops could be heard from the garage as the fire reached a pick-up truck and boat inside. Before the garage and roof collapsed, winds drove the flames higher towards the northeast.
Homeowner Barry Gregg arrived as most of the house had already been destroyed by fire. Gregg said he had been alerted by the Knox County Sheriff’s Office that his house was on fire, while he was working at Rolls Royce.
Gregg said he and his wife, Katherine, finished building the house only five years ago. The three-bedroom house and its contents appeared to be a total loss.
Porter requested a State Fire Marshal investigator be sent to the scene to help establish a cause of the fire. Gregg said there was a woodburner towards the back of the house, but he had been careful about maintenance.
“I just had the chimney cleaned,” Gregg said. “I usually get that done twice a year.”
Schunke said five of the engines and tankers on the scene had already been emptied of water, as more water was pumped from the pond.
Firefighters used two portable pumps to draw a total of 700 gallons a minute from the pond while the water brought to the scene added an additional 8000 gallons to the total.
The water from the portable pump was pumped into Fredericktown Engine 419, and three hoselines carried the water hundreds of yards down the lane to firefighters on all sides of the house.
Porter declared the situation contained around 9:45, but fire crews remained on the scene throughout the morning. As firefighters continued clean up, Porter commented on the joint effort of the departments.
“The interdepartmental cooperation was wonderful,” Porter said. “That’s the way it should work.”
Coordination between the departments began even before crews arrived on the scene within minutes of each other.
“MVFD and COJFD crews did a primary and secondary search,” Porter said. “It took about ten minutes and we determined no one was inside.”
The Knox County Chapter of the American Red Cross brought sandwiches and drinks for the fire crews who were all still on the scene at 11 this morning.