NEWTON - A Newton Falls man narrowly escaped serious injury Wednesday afternoon when the boat he was working on caught fire inside his barn on E. River Road in Newton Township.
Bud Wright - who uses the building at 2727 East River Road as a warehouse / workshop - said he wasn't hurt when the blaze started about 1 p.m. But the Columbia Avenue man pointed out spots of plastic from the boat that had melted and splattered across his shirt.
"I have spots on my arm that are starting to burn me a little now. But I'm OK. It's OK," he said, admitting the experience left him shaky.
Fire crews from several area departments douse flames and hot spots at a barn on 2727 E. River Road in Newton Township after a fire broke out about 1 p.m. Wednesday. The owner was working on a boat when the fire started. Photo by Virginia Shank
"For a minute there I didn't know if I was going to make it out. It was a pretty close call. I will say that."
Multiple fire departments assisted fighting the blaze, including Newton Falls, Lordstown and Milton. The fire gutted the structure, and smoke continued billowing from the area for several hours.
No one else was inside the barn and no other injuries were reported. Wright said the barn was full of equipment, including his tractors, but there were no animals inside.
Wright said something sparked near the boat's gas tank as he was working on it, but he's not sure what caused flames to erupt.
Although nearby houses are spread apart and the barn is located several yards from the road in a field, neighbors opened their doors to watch as fire trucks and police cruisers arrived.
Dan Kendall, who lives across the road, said he was in his house when he heard the sirens, but didn't "really see anything."
"Just mostly the smoke afterwards," he said. "It just seemed like the fire trucks got here and got it out pretty fast. You could just see a bunch of smoke."
His wife, Megan, said she wasn't home at the time but saw the fire trucks heading toward her neighborhood.
"Your heart just skips a beat because you just don't know exactly where they're going," she said. "I'm just glad he's OK. I'm glad it wasn't any worse."
Fire officials said the cause of the blaze is under investigation.