BRACEVILLE - A fire broke out at the closed Denman Tire factory, causing severe damage to the building and 12 fire departments were needed to extinguish the blaze.
Newton Falls Joint Fire Department Chief Rick Bauman, whose department arrived at the factory first and took control of directing other departments, said the fire was caused by contractors working for Titan Tire Corp. who were removing a conveyor belt and railings on a catwalk near the middle of the building with a torch.
The fire broke out about 8 a.m. Thursday, Bauman said, and was extinguished within a half-hour. No one was injured, he said.
Tribune Chronicle / R. Michael Semple
Firefighters spray water on flames at the closed tire plant. The fire was extinguished in about a half hour.
The handful of employees of the contracting company Keller Rigging and Construction Inc. of Tallmadge attempted to put out the fire with fire extinguishers at the plant, but it quickly spread, Bauman said. All of the employees evacuated the building and waited outside.
Keller Rigging employees all declined to comment at the behest of their bosses.
The fire sent thick black smoke billowing at least 200 feet in the air. The building's exterior, roof and inside were charred and marked with scorch marks.
''When we arrived, the fire was fully involved,'' Bauman said. "You could see the smoke from Newton Falls. You could see it from just about everywhere."
In addition to Newton Falls, Braceville, Warren Township, Champion, Lordstown, Greene, Mecca, Bristol, Southington, Windham, Garrettsville and Mesopotamia also responded to the fire.
Bauman said it was unlikely the state fire marshal wound investigate because those who caused the fire told investigators how it started.
A damage estimate was not immediately available.
Denman closed in late 2009 after 91 years and was sold to Titan Tire Co. for $4.4 million in early 2010. Denman sold its property, patents, drawings and molds last year after filing Chapter 7 bankruptcy.
The closing put about 230 union and 30 salaried employees out of work.
When it filed for bankruptcy in March 2010, it was about $14 million in the red.
Titan owns subsidiaries that supply wheels, tires and assemblies for off-highway equipment used in agricultural, construction and consumer applications.