Carlisle Township Fire Department will work with the Lorain County Sheriff’s Office because of suspicious circumstances at the scene, said Chief Steve Higgins.
When firefighters returned the second day, they found flames in a different part of the structure and some of the materials used to board up the building, were removed, the chief said.
“This was a different fire in the same building that we went back to, that’s why it’s suspicious to us,” Higgins said.
About 6 p.m. July 25, firefighters responded to the report of the first fire. It appeared the fire started in a downstairs office area, then broke a window and got into the second story of that part of the building, Higgins said.
They extinguished it and a contractor arrived to secure the building when firefighters left, said Carlisle Township Fire Assistant Chief Kurt Blair.
Firefighters were on scene at least two hours on July 25.
They used a thermal imaging camera to examine the building and found no signs it would reignite, Higgins said.
About 8:21 a.m. July 26, another call came in about the same building ablaze.
“We had heavy fire going on the roofline,” Blair said. He added he was at the station writing his report from the night before when the call came in.
Firefighters made an offensive attack at the front door to examine the scene, then moved to defensive positions outside to put out the flames, Blair said.
Anyone in the building was not supposed to be, Blair said.
On July 25, the building was open with no water, gas or electric power connected. But it was boarded up after the fire, Higgins and Blair said.
Inside, firewalls blocked the flames from spreading into the north and west wings of the building, Higgins said.
The office area, bar and second-story apartment were burned, but flames did not reach the bowling alley section inside, the chief said.
On July 26, Amherst and Elyria firefighters used their tower trucks to shower the building with water as an operator from Eschtruth Wrecking used an excavator to take down parts of the building that were left standing.
The streams were necessary to put out any flames that would ignite from hot spots still inside, Blair said.
“When the thing collapsed in obviously it collapsed in on some hot spots that were in there,” Blair said. Flames occasionally would jump up from under debris within the building, he said.
Multiple tanker trucks from fire departments in neighboring communities, and from as far as Medina County, operated as a water shuttle for the work.
Firefighters filled the tankers in Elyria and Carlisle Township, then brought the water to pour into a street-level reservoir set up to feed the water cannons. The move was necessary to ensure the proper volume of water available and due to water pressure problems from area hydrants, Blair said.
On July 25, one firefighter was taken to a local hospital for heat exhaustion. He was treated and released. And no firefighters were hurt July 26, officials said.
The property is owned by 635 Oberlin Elyria RD LLC and was valued at $146,040, according to Lorain County Auditor’s figures.