MOUNT VERNON — Small fires continue to flair up in the old Kresge building after Monday’s fire consumed the inside.
relatedFlames doused, investigation begins
According to Mount Vernon Fire Department Chief Shawn Christy, these flair ups are to be expected after any major fire.
“With multiple layers of debris, even with all the water we put in there, it’s not going to reach the bottom layers that burn,” Christy said.
Sometimes, he said, the only way to extinguish such flames is to let them burn through the layers so that water can be used to effectively to put out the fire.
The remaining members of the National Response Team are expected to arrive in Mount Vernon today, according to Kim Riddell, public information officer for the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives.
The ATF, along with the Ohio Division of State Fire Marshal, the MVFD and Mount Vernon Police Department are investigating the cause of the fire.
An initial assessment of the building was completed on Tuesday, Riddell said. Investigators were unable to enter the building to start the determination process, according to Riddell, because of unsafe conditions.
“Investigators will attempt to make entry into the building later today, but only after the safety of the investigators can be assured,” Riddell said. “The National Response Team will meet with local officials today to develop a plan to secure the building.”
Developing a strategy to shore up the building can include heavy equipment such as cranes, Riddell said.
Interviews with witnesses, first responders and occupants of the building have taken place and it is expected all interviews will be wrapped up by today, according to Shane Cartmill, public information officer for the ODSFM.
Initial damage estimates are $1.5 to $2 million.
All plans for 201 S. Main St. are on hold right now, according to building owner John Montenery.
“Until things are finalized insurance-wise and that kind of thing, we don’t really know where we stand,” Montenery told the News this morning. “We don’t really know any more about it than you guys do. Hopefully in the next couple of days they will get in there and find out what’s going on.”
Montenery said neither he nor his insurance company will have any say in the future of the building.
“The fire marshal has said it has to come down and that’s that,” Montenery said.
As for any plans on selling the property, Montenery said that is still to be determined.
“Since we’ve retired, we have had several offers on many of the properties we own,” he said. “But there’s been nothing serious (on this property). So we are just waiting. Some information should be determined today as to what happened and what caused the fire and who’s going to demolish the building.”
Mount Vernon Nazarene University officials were unable to access the Buchwald Center on Tuesday but are expecting to get a look inside today.
The corner building is a total loss, according to Christopher Sadowski, special agent in charge, ATF Columbus Field Division.
Investigators will conduct interviews, reconstruct the scene, look for the initial start and cause of the fire, and search for evidence in the debris.
The NRT is made up of “veteran special agents, including certified explosives specialists and certified fire investigators; forensic mappers, accelerant and explosive detection canines; explosives enforcement officers; fire protection engineers; electrical engineers; and forensic chemists. NRT special agents are explosives and fire investigators trained to work numerous fire and explosives scenes,” according to a press release issued by Riddell.
The NRT investigated the September 2008 arson fire at Mason’s Furniture Store in Circleville, the May 2009 arson fire at HighcomWolfden in Hilliard and the September 2010 fire on North Sandusky Street in Delaware County, Sadowksi said.
News Staff Reporter George Breithaupt contributed to this story.