Fire officials are continuing to investigate after a 17-year-old male was arrested on Thursday in connection with a massive Hamilton warehouse fire of July 25.
The fire was reported at about 4:45 a.m. on July 25 at 999 Laurel Avenue. The eyesore building has been a problem for firefighters in the past, and it erupted in flames and smoke that could be seen for miles around. It was put out with no injuries, and crews worked to demolish the standing pieces by early Thursday afternoon.
The scorched structure was so dangerous the city had to do an emergency demolition, which might hamper any future arson investigations, said Hamilton Fire Chief Mark Mercer.
Neighbors woke up that morning to the burning building and scrambled to protect themselves and nearby property.Barry Diangelo was up and filming the fire even before the fire department arrived.“It was scary at night time because the clouds of smoke was billowing up, you could feel the heat,” he said.
He lives two blocks over and started knocking on his neighbors’ doors.“I just started knocking on doors and they go like, ‘Who is it?’ Then they looked out the window and was like, ‘Oh my God!’ You could see the flames from our front porch,” he said.
Hamilton’s Executive Director of Public Safety Scott Scrimizzi said the building, which has been vacant for years, has been a hazard. The fire was so hot — 1,100 to 1,200 degrees, fire officials are estimating — because the building contained plastic molds and cardboard.
“Our fire prevention office has been in there … there was a business doing some stuff in there and we shut them down,” Scrimizzi said. “There’s been no activity there for quite some time. It’s always been for us a nuisance because of the lack of maintenance for the building, lack of maintenance for the sprinkler and alarm system, so we get a fair amount of fire alarms there.”
Scrimizzi said the city priced demolishing the building previously, and it would have cost about $500,000.“I can tell you from flying over it, there’s hardly anything left in there, so it should be significantly less since there’s nothing left,” Scrimizzi said. “But it’s still going to be expensive, and then you have to talk about what restrictions the EPA puts on you because of asbestos and things like that.”