Sunday, May 17, 2009


Elyria – It was a normal night for George Keressi, of Elyria, as he rode his bicycle down Middle Ave Saturday night – until he started smelling smoke. Keressi said as he crossed the alley on Middle Ave near the Lorain County Administration Building the smell was stronger. “I actually passed the alley but then I heard an explosion – at first I thought maybe it might have been a car crash. It was like a muffled explosion, then I heard glass breaking so I did a U-Turn on the sidewalk and went down the alley to see what had happened.”

Keressi said he saw a garbage can on fire and immediately called 9-1-1. “At first it was just the garbage can and part of the park bench on fire, but then once the glass broke out the curtains started to catch fire too. It was a scary thing seeing something like this – but I have to tell you, these guys (Firemen) did a great job in getting here so quick and putting it out as quick as they did.”

Assistant Chief Robert Dempsey of the Elyria Fire Department said they received the call at 10:30 p.m. through 9-1-1 of a fire outside of the building. Dempsey said that once the windows broke the fire extended into the Law Library hitting books and shelves along with the curtains. The first Engine on scene was able to extinguish the blaze within minutes according to Dempsey. Additional crews worked to check the interior for extension and to ventilate the building as it was filled with smoke.
Lorain County Commissioner Ted Kalo was notified by phone and responded to the building to inspect the damage. “It appears that the fire started in the garbage can and then spread to one of our recycled benches – then because of the intense heat from the burning plastic it busted out the windows of our Law Library. There is extensive smoke damage in the building but it appears that most of the law books were saved, just very wet.”

Kalo said that several county personnel were on hand to help with going through the building to open windows in an effort to get the smoke out as quickly as possible. “We have our maintenance crews coming in and they will get the windows boarded up to secure the building and to begin cleaning up the mess – we will have the building open for business Monday morning.”

Although the fire is being listed as “suspicious in nature” by authorities, Kalo said that it could have just been a careless mistake by someone. “This is one of those things where we may just never know what really happened. It could have been someone who just flicked a cigarette into the can or was sitting on the bench and dropped a match innocently – or it could have been someone who set it on purpose. We will probably never know.”

The Lorain County Sheriff’s Department and the Elyria Fire Prevention Bureau will conduct and investigation into the cause of the blaze. Chief Dempsey estimated the damage to be somewhere between 100 to 150 thousand dollars.


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