A pair of silos left standing after September’s large factory fire on Depot Street may need to be demolished.
The blaze, which was deemed arson by the state fire marshal, was the second at the former POV/Wagner birdseed plant in the past decade. A smaller fire, isolated to the building’s northwest corner, permanently closed the business in August 2007.
Clean-up crews said the silos remained too hot to touch for days after September’s fire was put out.
Though unused since Wagner closed its doors, some have come to view the more than 50-year-old silos as a Wellington landmark.
Assistant fire chief Bill Brown said a lack of structural integrity will likely make demolition a necessity.
“We’ve all kind of assumed they’ll have to be torn down but no one is officially making that happen yet,” he said. “From what we understand, those things have to be compromised after being under two pretty heavy fires. I’m not sure if the owner has done anything to look at it. The first fire wasn’t as close to the silos but they were still subjected to quite a bit of heat.”
“This past time the heat was directly on them,” he said.
While suspects have been interviewed, no arrests have been made in connection with September’s Depot Street fire or two others also classified as arson that occurred the same night within a two-hour window.
Occupants of a historical residence at 138 Forest St. said they smelled smoke between 10:30 p.m. and 11:30 p.m. and closed their windows, unaware of the smell’s origin until waking up the next morning and seeing two spots of damage on the home’s exterior.
The Wellington police auxiliary building at 110 Kelly St. was set on fire at an as-yet-undetermined time near an air conditioning unit located on an outside wall. The building suffered exterior and interior damage.
Wellington firefighters were the first of 16 units to respond to the Depot Street fire just after midnight.
A $5,000 reward has been offered by the Ohio Blue Ribbon Arson Committee for information leading to the arrest or conviction of those responsible for the fires. If you have a tip to offer, call the Wellington police at 440-647-2244, fire department at 440-647-2245, or state fire marshal at 800-589-2728.
This is far from the first time Wellington has dealt with a firebug.
The Blue Ribbon Committee offered another $5,000 reward for information regarding a fire lit Dec. 17, 2016, at a home on Clay Street but no arrests were made. Less than a half hour before that blaze, a 2002 Dodge Dakota was found in flames on South Main Street.
In May 2016, an outside vestibule at 126 Depot St. was intentionally set on fire.
Jonathan Delozier can be reached at 440-647-3171 or @DelozierNews on Twitter.