SALEM, Ohio (WKBN) – Two 17-year-old boys from the Lisbon area started the massive fire that destroyed the old Salem China Company building Tuesday, according to the Salem Police Department.
Local and state investigators had been questioning the boys after a tip came in that someone was near the building before the fire broke out. Along with the tip, a person gave police a description of a vehicle at the scene, as well as its occupants and license plate number.
“We knew early on in the investigation that that vehicle was probably gonna be involved,” said Salem Police Det. Dave Talbert. “We prioritized things and eventually pursued that lead, which led to the arrests yesterday.”
The fire broke out about 3:30 p.m. Tuesday and burned through the night into the next day, involving several fire companies and dozens of firefighters to get it under control. Huge plumes of smoke from the fire could be seen for miles, even as far away as Poland.
The building is currently owned by the Church Budget Envelope Company, which used it weekly to store rolls of paper, among other items.
Salem’s fire chief said his crews have already dumped more than one million gallons of water on the scene since Tuesday.
Police said the warehouse had a history of trespassers. Detectives said they are grateful that no one got hurt, even though it tied up a lot of resources.
The teens appeared for a detention hearing in Salem on Friday.
One of the suspects will remain in custody until his arraignment on December 6, while the other teen is on home confinement until December 8.