Less than 48 hours after Progress Plastics announced its intention to snuff production, the warehouse went up in billowing smoke.
The Bellevue Fire Department received a call at 3:49 a.m. Sunday reporting heavy smoke was coming from the Monroe Street building.
Lt. Tony Schaffer said firefighters arrived minutes after and found light smoke in the entryway that soon gave way to thick, heavy smoke billowing from the warehouse.
"The biggest difficulty was battling the heavy smoke created by the plastic burning," he said.
Schaffer said Bellevue requested extra manpower and eight departments -- Perkins, Norwalk, Margaretta, Monroeville, Attica, Clyde, Green Springs, and Ballville Township -- assisted with extinguishing the flames.
"It wasn't under control until about 8:45 (Sunday) morning," he said. "Because of the smoke, it was more difficult to get under control."
Schaffer said the fire appears to have started in the warehouse area.
"We have no idea how much or what all was damaged," he said. "The amount of damage is pending."
The fire erupted just days after Progress Plastics' human resources director Kathy Dick announced the Bellevue branch was shutting its doors after 40 years in the community.
The injection molding manufacturer started feeling the heat of the weakening economy two years ago when Armstrong Air closed, leaving 400 jobless.
Russ Panas, the city's economic development director, said the injection molding manufacturer recently lost a contract with Whirlpool -- which could have been the deciding factor in the business closing its doors.
Schaffer said there are no leads as to who or what started the fire. The Bellevue Fire Department, State Fire Marshal and Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives are investigating.
"It could be days before we have anything concrete," he said.