Margaretta Township Fire Department
Margaretta Township home destroyed by fire
Alissa Widman Neese
Aug 3, 2014 at 10:36 PM
A enormous fire completely destroyed a Margaretta Township home Sunday evening.
A multitude of firefighters from several departments battled the blaze for more than three hours in sweltering heat.
The fire ignited in the Maple Avenue home's attached garage at about 4:30 p.m., likely intensified by combustible fluids inside, firefighters said.
It's undetermined what exactly sparked the fire, but they suspect a recently used riding lawn mower parked inside the garage could be the culprit.
Within minutes of igniting, the entire garage became engulfed.
Dark smoke and flames billowed into the air, visible from miles away, several individuals at the scene said.
Adam and Jill Hartley and their two young daughters, as well as two pet dogs, escaped the blazing home unharmed.
Groups of people made their way onto the roadside and watched the fire steadily make its way across the entire home, which is in the 5900 block of Maple Ave.
Firefighters from departments in Bayview, Milan and Sandusky, as well as Margaretta, Perkins and Groton townships responded to the scene, as well as Erie County Sheriff's deputies.
By about 7 p.m., Tom Johnson, assistant fire chief for the Margaretta Township Fire Department, called the home a "total loss."
After engulfing the garage, the flames traveled through the attic, gutting the upstairs floor and inflicting heavy smoke damage throughout the rest of the home. The garage, as well as parts of the roof, caved in and collapsed.
Two cars parked nearby and a motorcycle parked inside the garage were completely charred.
"The important thing is everyone is OK," Johnson said.
Just before the blaze ignited, Adam had used a riding lawn mower and stored it in the garage, Johnson said.
Adam came inside the home and shortly after, a smoke detector sounded. He rushed his family out of the home and quickly called 911.
Others had already spotted the flaming garage, however, and had also called Margaretta Township firefighters.
Adam is a Perkins Schools teacher and football coach.
On Sunday, several district employees comforted him on the roadside. Neighbors also distributed water and popsicles to firefighters and bystanders to help them keep cool in the heat.
While on the scene, Perkins High School principal Dean Stanfield said the group plans to coordinate some sort of fundraising effort to assist the Hartley family.
The Register will provide information about any fundraising efforts when it becomes available.