An acre of wooden pallets created an inferno Monday afternoon that took six fire departments nearly two hours to extinguish.
From past experience, Townsend and Margaretta fire-fighters knew they faced a challenge battling the blaze because of the lack of water and ideal kindling at Reed's Supply.
Stacks of burning pallets at the 2430 Northwest Road property plagued firefighters who doused the fire from atop their trucks.
"You get air flowing through and around the pallets and it just fuels the fire," said Townsend Township fire Chief Joe Parkhurst.
The stiff breeze and lack of hydrants added to the difficulty of extinguishing the blaze that started at about 12:45 p.m.
Shortly after arrival, Margaretta Township firefighters asked for help from any department in Erie County that could assist in trucking water to fight the inferno.
Fifty to 60 firefighters from Townsend Township, Perkins Township, Sandusky, Groton Township, Huron Township, Milan and Clyde pooled resources to extinguish the blaze.
A continual convoy of water tankers traveled back and forth to Castalia -- about five miles away -- to get water. At least 10 tankers transported water by the thousands of gallons to large holding pools on scene.
A local man, credited by firefighters with helping to contain the blaze, used his backhoe to knock over towering stacks of fiery pallets.
Nickles, 45, helped firefighters get to smoldering pallets and keep the fire from spreading.
"I just came to move the backhoe," Nickles said. "I didn't know I was going to do this."
By 2:15 p.m. Parkhurst reported the fire was under control and the department would be investigating the cause of the blaze.
The owner of Reed Supply declined comment and told Parkhurst they didn't know what sparked the fire.
But an employee of Reed Supply, 24-year-old Tommy Kearns, said they started a small fire to burn boxes and garbage and then left for lunch.
"The wind picked up and it took off," he said. "It got bigger and bigger."
Parkhurst said this fire adds to a list of ongoing complaints against Reed Supply.
The Reeds had pallets stacked next to the road, something Parkhurst said isn't legal.
He said Townsend Township trustees and the fire department have had difficulty getting the business to comply with fire code. He said the Sandusky County commissioners and the prosecutor have also gotten involved in trying to curtail the business' practices.