By Michael Roknick
Herald Business Editor
PYMATUNING TOWNSHIP —
More than 100 firefighters from at least four counties in the region battled an enormous fire that erupted late Friday afternoon in Greenville-Reynolds Industrial Park.
Volcanic-sized plumes of black smoke could be seen five miles away as the fire swept through several buildings in the industrial complex contained in the Pymatuning Township section of the park.
All 26 Mercer County fire departments were called in to quell the roaring blaze along with departments from Lawrence, Crawford and Trumbull counties.
While details were still sketchy, officials on the scene believed the fire started at a Salem Tube Co. warehouse and then spread to two other businesses. The fire, which started sometime before 5:30 p.m. was at first small but gradually spread to other structures.
No injuries were reported.
“When I got here at 5:30 (p.m.) it was pretty small,” said Tony Settle, a Pymatuning Township policeman.
Settle said he believed the other business that had buildings catch on fire were R&J Alloids and FMP Co. One building was believed to be unoccupied but none of the information could be confirmed by firefighters.
Hampering efforts to subdue the fire was that at least some of the buildings date back to World War II days when the park was Camp Reynolds for the U.S. Army. In Salem Tube’s case the one building had a wooden roof that quickly caught fire.
Even firefighters with 30 years of experience under their belts never recalled seeing as many fire trucks on hand to fight a blaze.
“We’re using all the fire hydrants we can find,” said Don Patterson, a firefighter with the Transfer Fire Department. “We called in every available tanker we could find.”
Four aerial trucks and two snorkel trucks were seen.
“When I got here there were bricks flying everywhere from the fire,” Dick Craig, a lieutenant with the Greenville Fire Department, said.
Also hurting firefighters was heavy smoke severely limiting visibility.
“It’s hard to tell how many buildings are on fire. That’s how thick the black smoke was,” said Daniel Cole, a firefighter with the Orangeville, Ohio, Fire Department.
A water filling station was quickly established for fire tankers to fill up at the Transfer VFW, a half mile from the scene.
What caused the blaze had not been determined as emergency officials said their first priority was to extinguish the fire.
Jim Reagle, a telephone company worker, was at one of the buildings earlier in day, before the fire.
“All of my stuff was in there and is burnt to a crisp now,” he said.
Frank Janetti, Mercer County Emergency Services, said he expected fire crews would be at the site well into this morning.