MOUNT VERNON — The extensive remodeling under way at the headquarters of the Mid East Ohio Regional Council at 1 Avalon Road added special challenges to the job firefighters faced while battling a stubborn fire at the two-story building Saturday shortly after 10 p.m.
A passerby called 9-1-1 when flames and smoke were noticed coming from the building.
“There was heavy smoke coming from the west side of the second story,” said Chris Menapace, Mount Vernon Fire Department assistant fire chief.
Because there was no life safety concern because the fire occurred when the business was closed and unoccupied, Menapace said the firefighters immediately began attacking the fire at its heart.
“The initial hoseline attack team went up there and did a very quick knock-down of visible fire on the second story,” he explained.
He said the problem which persisted was the fire was not visible — it was working its way through the attic and was not visible from outside the structure, or from the inside.
“The difficulty was due to the remodeling of the existing building with a new build on top of it, with layered ceilings with a void space not visible from the exterior or interior,” Menapace explained.
“The fire was actually above the first roof,” he said, adding that the new remodeling had added more layers to the multilayered roof, which included a layer of concrete the firefighters were not able to access with standard hand tools.
He said firefighters were finally able to access the fire in the attic through an unoccupied residential apartment on the second floor.