CHAMPION - Ronald Lee Wolfe Jr. said that all he could do was stand by and watch flames consume his father's Mahoning Avenue home early Monday morning, knowing that firefighters did not have an adequate water supply to battle the blaze.
"It was hard watching it burn," he said. "But everything's OK. Everyone's fine. We are very lucky. I'm just glad it didn't spread."
No injuries were reported. Wolfe's 71-year-old father, Ronald Lee Wolfe Sr., and a 12-year-old female relative were inside the house when the fire broke out around 4 a.m., but they made it out safely after being alerted by smoke detectors.
This is the exterior view of a house on state Route 45 in Champion that was destroyed by an early Monday morning fire. The house is next to the Champion Day School.
Tribune Chronicle / R. Michael Semple
Wolfe's daycare, Champion Day School, which is between his own home and his father's at 6270 Mahoning Ave., sustained smoke damage and was closed Monday. However, he said he planned to reopen the business today.
"The main thing is that everyone is OK," he said.
Wolfe said his parents had operated the daycare about 22 years before he bought it from them 11 years ago. He said a window at the building cracked from water pressure, but firefighters were able to keep the flames contained to his father's house. He said the fire started in the garage; however, the cause has not yet been determined. The State Fire Marshal's Office was on the scene to investigate.
Fire crews said they had trouble because fire hydrants were not working properly and were frozen. A section of Mahoning Avenue between Airport Road and state Route 305 was closed for several hours to allow firefighters to access another water supply, Hickey said. He said it took crews about two hours to contain the blaze but firefighters remained on the scene until about 11 a.m. dousing hot spots.
Champion Fire Chief John Hickey said it appears that the house is a loss, but crews were able to stop the flames from spreading to the day care center.
"They're very fortunate," Hickey said. "It could have been a lot worse."
Hickey said that early estimates indicate a $150,000 loss.