STEUBENVILLE - Washington Street remained closed this morning as firefighters continued to fight hot spots in the former Creegan Co. building that was destroyed by an overnight fire that required mutual aid assistance from six community fire departments.
Steubenville Assistant Fire Chief Mike Taylor said this morning the brick building was unstable after the roof and second floor collapsed during the all-night blaze.
Smoke still was drifting from the building and small fires could be seen early today inside the pile of rubble approximately 12 hours after the fire was first reported.
"At this point we do not know what started the fire. It remains under investigation," remarked Taylor.
"We have Building Inspector Anthony Bodo coming to the site this morning and I expect him to condemn the building. The walls are unstable at this point and we will keep Washington Street closed between North Fifth Street and North Seventh Street until the walls are brought down. We are also not allowing the Washington Square apartment building residents to return to their apartments until the Creegan building is brought down. It isn't safe until that structure is collapsed," stated Taylor.
Taylor said the adjacent apartment building was evacuated for the safety of residents and there may be some smoke damage in the apartment building.
FIGHTING A DOWNTOWN BLAZE — Firefighters from seven communities fought a multi-alarm fire Wednesday night at the Creegan Co. building on Washington Street. At the height of the blaze firefighters were sending water onto the roof of the building that was later declared a loss. - Michael D. McElwain
BUiLDING DESTROYED — Smoke continued to rise from the remains of the former Creegan Co. building on Washington Street this morning 12 hours after the structure started burning. - Dave Gossett
"We really won't be able to completely extinguish the fire until the building is demolished and we can start pulling material out of the rubble. We have the fire under control but there are still several hot spots," Taylor added.
The roof of the business building and the second floor collapsed onto the first floor at the height of the blaze that was initially reported at 7:30 p.m. Wednesday.
Taylor said two city firefighters were transported to Trinity Medical Center West.
"One firefighter was having chest pains, and a second firefighter injured his foot while battling the blaze," reported Taylor.
"When we arrived on the scene there was heavy smoke and flames coming from the building. We had the fire under control after approximately four hours. But it was a very cold night, which added to the conditions we were facing in fighting this fire. We requested and received mutual aid from fire departments from Wintersville, Mingo Junction, Hillndale, Toronto, Brilliant and Weirton," said Taylor.
"It was a very cold night and that made fighting this fire even more difficult because the water was freezing almost immediately," noted Taylor.
Seven residents from the Washington Square apartment building were offered overnight lodging at the nearby Froehlich's Classic Corner restaurant building.
Jefferson County Red Cross volunteers were at the restaurant this morning assessing the needs of the residents and offering assistance to the firefighters who were still at the fire scene.
"We had offers of support from local businessman Steve Vukelic who brought coffee and food to the firefighters. We also received support from Jerry Simpson of Borden Office Equipment and Greg Froehlich. The Steubenville City Schools were sending coffee to the firefighters this morning. And the Expert Tire store served as a warming station for the firefighters. We really appreciate the support from the other fire departments as well as the support from individuals in our community who stepped up when they saw people in need," according to Taylor.
"We had to have the power shut off to the area during the fire and will contact the American Electric Power Co. to restore power as soon as we have everything under control," he said.