Suspected arson destroys Brighton Township home

Wellington firefighters struggle with structure set far from road

By Valerie Urbanik and Catherine Gabe

Firefighters battled a “heavily engulfed residence” Friday at 23400 Gore Orphanage Rd. in Brighton Township, which is now considered an arson.

Wellington fire crews were called to the scene at 8:21 p.m. and were on scene 11 minutes later.

“Once we looked into it and got the sheriff involved and the state fire marshal, they’ve listed it as an arson fire,” said fire chief Mike Wetherbee. “They went after the homeowner. The husband made some threatening remarks to the wife who had recently filed for divorce. That led us to believe there might be a little more out there than meets the eye.”

The residents, a husband and wife, were not at present at the time of the incident. A neighbor called the fire in. The Lorain County auditor lists the property in the names of David and Tamara Smith. David Smith has been charged with aggravated menacing, aggravated arson, and telecommunications harassment by the Lorain County Sheriff’s Office.

The Friday night blaze took longer than firefighters would have liked to extinguish.

Assistant fire chief Bill Brown said that’s because the house is more than 1,100 feet from the road so emergency responders had to stretch hoses across the lawn.

Firefighters from Spencer and Wakeman along with Rochester, Camden, Florence, and Carlisle townships responded. Oberlin firefighters took an engine and a crew to cover the Wellington fire station while a dozen Wellington firefighters were out at the fire.

A small pole barn and a neighbor’s home located near the blaze were not damaged.

Brown said the home is valued at roughly $218,000. While it wasn’t completely destroyed by flames, the assistant chief said he believes it will have to be torn down: “I would say it’s going to be complete loss of the structure.”

The majority of the contents inside the home were also ravaged, he said.

The fire is under investigation by the Wellington fire department, Lorain County Sheriff’s Office, and the state fire marshal, Brown said.

The state fire marshal brought in a dog trained to sniff out accelerants, Wetherbee said.

Valerie Urbanik and Catherine Gabe can be reached at 440-647-3171, on Twitter @ValUrbanik and @ReporterGabe, or via email at and

Wellington firefighters struggle with structure set far from road

By Valerie Urbanik and Catherine Gabe