EAST LIVERPOOL, Ohio (WKBN) – More than 12 hours after the first trucks arrived, smoke and steam could still be seen Monday morning rising from what is left of the fertilizer bagging facility at Growmark in East Liverpool.
The scene on Virginia Avenue late Sunday looked very different, with flames and heavy smoke pouring from the building. A meteorologist at the National Weather Service in Pittsburgh said they could see the smoke from radar.
“The shape of the building you see now was fully involved. It was actually coming through the roof,” East Liverpool Fire Chief Bill Jones said.
Neighbors spotted the blaze around 9:30 p.m. Sunday.The company, which bags fertilizer products and has about a dozen workers, had been closed since Friday. Fire officials said the flames destroyed some automated bagging equipment as well as several large pieces of heavy machinery, but the nearby warehouse escaped serious damage.
“My guys were able to make a nice interior attack on the warehouse. And they saved a lot of their product,” Jones said.
Because of the size of the fire, the State Fire Marshal was called-in, which added to a pretty full plate just from the past 24 hours.
“Right now, I think we have approximately eight different fires in three or four different counties,” said Ohio State Fire Marshal Assistant Chief Bob Sharpe.
Sharpe oversees half a dozen investigators assigned to cover the 22-county northeast Ohio district.
“We are at full strength. Matter of fact, we even called a guy in off vacation. Because we have some large fires as well,” he said.
While the cause of the Growmark fire remains undetermined, it is the third major fire for the small East Liverpool Fire Department since November.
“Twelve members, plus myself. So yeah, they are getting a workout this year,” Jones said.
Local authorities said there are no concerns about chemical runoff into either the nearby Ohio River or the city’s sanitary sewer system. But the Chief predicts damages could reach $1.5 million.