Warren bar set on fire

Fire Dept. rules it as intentional

WARREN — The Powerhouse Bar & Grill, whose liquor license renewal the city had opposed because of numerous instances of criminal activity outside the bar, was intentionally set on fire Thursday.

“There were multiple points of origin on the first floor with no single source of origin,” Warren fire Chief Ken Nussle said, adding that samples still need to be analyzed by the state fire marshal’s office to determine whether an accelerant was used to set the fire.

The fire was reported at 4:32 a.m. Thursday when a passerby saw heavy smoke on Mahoning Avenue across from the bar, according to a report. Nussle said the fire started on the first floor and extended to the second floor and into the roof. There were no injuries, he said.

Crews were able to extinguish the fire in about 45 minutes, Nussle said. They remained on scene for about two-and-a-half hours after it was out, opening up rooms and checking for hot spots, he said.

“It was a heavy volume of smoke and fire,” Nussle said.

Nussle said there is no immediate damage estimate. The Warren Fire Department, along with the State Fire Marshal’s Office, were at the bar Thursday morning investigating. Nussle said the state was called in to assist given the size of the building and the potential loss.

The outside of the bar was marked with caution tape and the charred inside could be seen through some busted-out windows and an open door. The smell of smoke still hung in the air around the bar.

The bar has faced public scrutiny in recent months. City Council in July voted 6-4 to oppose the renewal of the establishment’s liquor license. Police have responded to the bar numerous times this year on calls related to shots fired, fights, noise complaints, overdoses, robberies, criminal damaging and general disturbances. The city had applied with the Ohio Division of Liquor Control for a hearing regarding renewal of the bar’s liquor license, but a date hasn’t been scheduled.

James Gaddis, 22, of Kenilworth Avenue, told police Tuesday night he was shot by a man covering his face with a hooded sweatshirt as Gaddis was walking out of the bar.

Wendy Davidson, who has owned the bar for 15 years, said her attempts to reach out to the city in recent weeks to work toward a solution to the problems have fallen on deaf ears. A distraught Davidson was talking to a fire investigator Thursday as bar employees stood behind the caution tape.

Davidson, who was reached by phone earlier in the morning, said no one was in the bar at that time of the morning.

“They are investigating and I have no information yet,” she said. “Thank God no one was there. The cleaning people had left and locked up and that’s all we know right now.”

According to Trumbull County Auditor records, the 7,300-square-foot building has a total market value of $166,600. The State Fire Marshal’s Office did not have additional information when called Thursday.

A reward of up to $5,000 is being offered to anyone who has information that might help identify the arsonist. The fire department can be reached at 330-841-2542.