Police say 2 people feared inside burning Middletown building are alive

UPDATE @ 7:45 p.m.

Two people feared to be inside the burning former Middletown Paperboard facility are accounted for after they reached out to Middletown police.

UPDATE @ 6 p.m.

Middletown firefighters have completed the overhaul and primary and secondary searches of the Middletown Paperboard facility, according to city officials.

“We’re fairly confident that no one was in the building,” said Shelby Quinlivan, city spokeswoman.

She said an engine company and police will be in the area of the facility off South Verity Parkway/Ohio 4 during the night and officials are hoping for rain showers forecasted for Wednesday night to help put down hot spots.

Quinlivan said demolition will continue on the South Verity Parkway side of the facility where the two smokestacks are located. City officials hope to reopen South Verity Parkway/Ohio 4 by late Friday. After the road is reopened, she said the demolition crew will move to the Park Street side of the facility and continue clearing debris.

From Park Street, an orange glow is visible from the smoldering debris.


Two people are unaccounted for following a fire at a vacant building in Middletown Wednesday.

JD Robinson, also known as Justin de Vercelli, and Tiffany Orano have not been seen by family or friends since the fire and may st ill be in the building, said Middletown Division of Fire Chief Paul Lolli.

The fire department is continuing to go through the building as more areas are deemed safe and are accessible for firefighters.

The pair were living in the vacant building with three others, including a man who was charged in the fire.

Joshua Lamb, 35, is charged with arson, a fourth-degree felony, and was arraigned today in Middletown Municipal Court, according to court records. A preliminary hearing set for Jan. 8.


During questioning, Lamb confirmed that he lived in the building with four others, said Lolli.

Lamb is charged in relation to Wednesday’s fire, said Steve Longworth, Middletown Municipal Court administrator. His bond was set at $20,000, and Lamb is housed in the Middletown City Jail. He was booked into the jail at 8 p.m. Wednesday.

Lamb told police he built a fire in the building and “when he came back into the area his bed was on fire,” according to court documents. The fire spread, and Lamb fled the scene because he has several warrants for his arrest.

Middletown fire crews were continuing to pour water on the building at 300 S. Verity Parkway this morning.

City officials said Fire Chief Paul Lolli and the building inspection department will be meeting today to determine next steps before entering the building. Because of the building’s age and known structural issues, firefighters have not entered the building.

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Shelby Quinlivan, city spokeswoman, said the city is hoping to clear building debris from the blaze that has fallen on South Verity Parkway. Sections of streets are still closed in the area because of debris.

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The city is also making arrangements with a local demolition company to assist firefighters in moving debris to put out hotspots and to search for any victims. The building has been known to be a place for the homeless to seek shelter.

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This story will be updated as more information becomes available.

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