State agencies now involved in cleaning up massive Butler County tire warehouse fire

The state fire marshal and environmental experts have taken over dealing with the aftermath of a massive fire in Morgan Twp. last week, a blaze emergency crews battled for two days.

Crews responded at about 6:30 p.m. on Feb. 18 to the Wholesale Tire Mart at 4954 Alert New London Road. The fire burned overnight and through most of Wednesday, billowing smoke that could be seen for many miles.

Morgan Twp. Fire Chief Jeff Galloway said his crew and the 17 other responding fire departments and agencies were finished with their work “mopping up hot spots” by 4 p.m. Thursday. The rubble was still smoldering Tuesday, but Galloway said they have been monitoring it to make sure there are no flare-ups.

“There’s no more fire going anywhere,” he said. “It’s going to smoke until they start to haul that stuff off to the dump.”

He said the insurance company must determine what of the debris “is contaminated and what is not” before a demolition company can he hired to haul it away.

RELATED: ‘It’s a large operation’: How the battle against a massive Butler County business fire unfolded

The cause of the fire is still under investigation.

“We turned that (the investigation) to the state fire marshal’s office,” Galloway said. “They’re the lead investigators, anything with a significant dollar loss, or a fatality or something like that, the state fire marshal has to come in and do the investigation.”

The state fire marshal’s office had no new information about the origin of the fire.

No one was injured in the fire that downed the 15,000-square-foot building. The day of the fire, Galloway said there were about 1,000 tires and eight plastic totes filled with an estimated 2,664 gallons of chemicals inside the building. Galloway said investigators identified the chemicals, but he declined to release specifics.

“Because the investigation is still going on from the fire marshal,” he said. “The folks that need to know it, know it, but I’m just not going to put that out there publicly.”

The building’s owner, Mark Meyer, could not be reached for comment, but Galloway said he has hired a company to clean up the site. The Ohio EPA will be overseeing the clean-up. The auditor values the now-gutted structure at $158,740.

Fire crews did not completely douse the flames early on because there were concerns about the chemicals in the building. There is a creek next to the site, and they were worried about sending toxic smoke into the neighborhood and beyond.

“Most chemicals in the building were consumed in the fire,” said Dina Pierce, a spokeswoman for the EPA. “Containment measures will remain in place to control storm water runoff from the site during the cleanup. Ohio EPA is following up as needed to make sure cleanup is being done and debris is properly disposed.”

The building sits at the edge of a residential neighborhood.

Christina Whitlock, who lives in the house next door to the building, said she got home from work at around 8:30 p.m. to “all the mayhem.”

“It was really scary,” she said. “The flames were huge and explosions that were happening were the most scary part.”

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