Ellsworth hunting club destroyed by fire

ELLSWORTH TOWNSHIP, Ohio (WKBN) — The Ellsworth Township fire chief said it is going to be difficult to determine what touched off a blaze early Tuesday morning that destroyed a pavilion at a historical sportsman’s club.

All that is left of what had been a club house for the Mahoning County Coon Hunters Protective Association are the cinder block walls and a big stone fireplace.

The club, which was founded in Youngstown a century ago as a private sportsman’s organization, has been at the U.S. Route 224 location in Ellsworth Township for the past 40 years. Members eventually erected the pavilion to house meetings as well as other social events, including a number of graduation parties planned later this month.

“The members did all the brick work, the trusses, the roof. We added on it to several years ago. The members did that,” said club member Jerry Bettross.

Crews from Ellsworth and five neighboring departments were called to the club around 3:45 a.m. Tuesday. However, members of the club who live in the area said it was already too late since the roof had collapsed by the time firefighters arrived.

“We heard some popping and then my neighbor called me about 4 a.m. and said there was all kind of noise out here and the fire department was out here, so when I came out here, all the trusses were burned down,” Bettross said.

Paul Finch, who has been a member for the past 55 years, said he was one of the last to leave the club Monday afternoon and didn’t notice anything out of the ordinary.

“Sad today. A lot of good times, a lot of good people,” Finch said.

For now, the cause of the blaze is being listed as undetermined and the State Fire Marshal has been called in to help investigate.

Members said in addition to picnic tables and kitchen equipment, they lost decades of memorabilia.

“This is our 100th anniversary and everybody that had pictures in the past brought pictures in and they were inside. We’re putting an album together, so that’s all destroyed,” said Mahoning County Coon Hunters Protective Association president John Jakubec.

At this point, no dollar amount has been given for the loss, but members said they do plan to rebuild.

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