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Fire wall kept Perry Street blaze from spreading

Emil Whitis • Jun 20, 2012 at 8:00 AM

A raging fire that caused $250,000 in damage to a Perry Street warehouse Monday could have been much worse, Sandusky firefighters said. 

A brick firewall separated the warehouse from a section of apartments at the front of the building, Sandusky fire Capt. Jim Green said.

That kept the flames from spreading.

“For the most part, the firewall did what it was meant to do,” Green said. “Without it, the fire would have quickly spread to the apartments.”

No one was injured in the blaze. It was a best-case outcome, which Green partially credited to the firewall.

The cause of the fire is still under investigation. 

It started at about 12:40 p.m. when classic car renovator Marvin Wade was working inside the warehouse in the 300 block of Perry St. 

In a recorded 911 call, Wade sounds panicked as he urges dispatchers to send help.   

“Hello, I’ve got a fire behind metro housing. It’s in a big building,” he’s heard shouting. “Come on, hurry.”

When firefighters pulled up in front of the building about two minutes later, the whole block of Perry Street was shrouded in smoke.

The inferno was raging in the back part of the building — the warehouse — but firefighters chose to focus their immediate efforts on the apartments to ensure residents were safe. 

“The human element is always No. 1,” Green said.

After crews searched the smoky apartments and found no one, they turned to the warehouse. 

Within about 10 minutes, a ladder truck rolled into the Sandusky Metro Housing parking lot.

At that point, flames were billowing up to 30 feet into the air.

Two firefighters climbed into the ladder truck’s bucket, which was then raised about 50 feet over the fire.

When the two tried to use the high-pressure hose to dowse the fire, however, nothing came out.

“I can’t speculate on what happened,” Green said. “I wasn’t there.”

There was no mention of a problem in the fire report, he said. 

Firefighters fixed the problem within minutes and eventually snuffed the flames.

Smoke and heat damage to the apartments resulted in three families being displaced. The American Red Cross has promised to put the families up in a motel for three days or more, if needed.

While firefighters haven’t officially determined the cause of the blaze, Wade said it started while he was working on a car.

He said he was trying to remove a gas tank from under the car when the tank broke loose and rolled. Gas spilled across the floor, igniting after it trickled toward a lamp on the ground nearby.

The fire ultimately destroyed four classic cars in the warehouse. 

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