Fire out, demolition continues at former Middletown Paperboard

Credit: DaytonDailyNews

Middletown firefighters battled a large fire at the vacant former Middletown Paperboard building on New Year?s Day.

Credit: DaytonDailyNews

Demolition workers continued their work over the weekend clearing debris, knocking down walls and pulling out a 10,000-gallon tank that was found late Friday under the rubble at the former Middletown Paperboard facility after the New Year’s Day fire.

“The fire operations are finished, said Middletown Fire Chief Paul Lolli on Sunday. “It was one of the hardest fires I’ve seen to fight because we could not get access to put water on the center of the fire.”

ExploreMORE: Discovery of tank slows work on Middletown building destroyed by fire

Lolli said firefighters cleared the scene about 8 p.m. Friday but fire crews continued to do drive-bys throughout the night to make sure that any hotspots did not ignite.

City spokeswoman Shelby Quinlivan said crews from Vickers Demolition pulled out a 10,000-gallon tank from under the rubble on Saturday that had about 200 to 300 gallons of an undetermined liquid. She said that two smoke stacks on south end of the massive building are expected to come down on Monday.

ExploreMORE: Vacant buildings in Middletown create many public safety and blight issues. Last week’s fire proved it.

Credit: DaytonDailyNews

Crews battled a fire at the vacant former Middletown Paperboard building on Wednesday, Jan. 1, 2020.

Credit: DaytonDailyNews

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Vickers crews were on heavy equipment on the Park Street side of the facility moving the debris and looking for more hotspots. Another crew could be seen on an aerial platform chipping away the bricks on both smoke stacks as they prepare to bring them down on Monday.

Lolli said by mid-Sunday afternoon a portion of one smoke stack dropped about a fourth of its height.

ExploreMORE: 2 people feared inside burning Middletown building accounted for

South Verity Parkway/Ohio 4 between Girard Avenue and Yankee Road has been closed since Wednesday to through traffic because of the damaged buildings and debris. Two smoke stacks at the south end of the facility will also need to come down to protect public safety. City officials had hoped to have South Verity Parkway/Ohio 4 opened to traffic by late Friday.

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The 11-acre site of 61 parcels is located at 300 S. Verity Parkway and had an estimated 400,000 to 600,000 square feet of space.

ExploreMORE: Large fire causes ‘catastrophic’ damage to vacant Middletown building: What we know today

Middletown firefighters have remained on the scene watching for floating embers going on to nearby residential and commercial properties since New Year’s Day. The smoldering embers were buried in pockets inside the double roof, burning into the old wooden beams. As demolition crews worked, moving the debris and removing the scrap metal left in the building, walls were being knocked down, revealing more hotspots.

ExplorePHOTOS: Large fire at old Middletown Paperboard building on New Year’s Day

The large fire was reported at 6:40 a.m. on Jan. 1. More than 100 firefighters at a time battled the blaze, which led to the arrest of a man, Joshua Lamb, who said he was living in the building when a fire he started spread to his bedding.

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Lamb was arraigned in court Jan. 2. Court officials said Lamb is being held under a $20,000 bond in the Middletown City Jail, where he was booked about 8 p.m. Jan. 1. A preliminary hearing for Lamb has been set for Wednesday.

ExploreWATCH: Videos capture walls collapsing, intense flames and smoke at Middletown vacant building fire

Officials will continue to keep various streets blocked off until the fire is completed put out and the area is safe.

City officials said there were many ways of getting into the building, Crews previously boarded up windows and doors and put up fencing to deter people from entering the building, said Acting City Manager Susan Cohen.

She said the city does not own the building or property that was forfeited to the state of Ohio on Dec. 19 in a tax foreclosure suit.

Photographer Nick Graham contributed to this report.