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Witness photos aided in Mad River Mountain fire case

Published: Wednesday, September 16, 2015 @ 8:44 PM
Updated: Tuesday, September 29, 2015 @ 3:25 PM

            The state fire marshal's office has completed its initial investigation, and ruled the official cause will be listed as undetermined.
The state fire marshal's office has completed its initial investigation, and ruled the official cause will be listed as undetermined.

A fire destroyed the main building at Mad River Ski Resort in the Main Base Lodge Wednesday night. Despite the fire, the ski resort will be open this season.

  • Ski resort will be open this season
  • Investigation can’t pinpoint the cause of the fire.
  • Over 50 pieces of equipment from 16 departments responded to fire

UPDATE @ 3:20 p.m. (Sept. 29)

Michael Mihnovets, marketing manager at Mad River Mountain, said the ski resort already has plans for temporary lodges to be put into place before they open for this ski season.

The structure, called Sprung, is a fabric structure specifically engineered to withstand high wind gusts and heavy snow loads, according to the company’s website.

Mad River will tear down the destroyed lodge and put the Sprung structure on the cement foundation, Mihnovets said.

Chief Josh Hobbs, division of State Fire Marshal, Fire and Explosion Investigations Bureau, said many of the cell phone pictures and videos taken by eye witnesses who arrived at the fire scene early helped investigators determine where in the building the fire might have started.

Photos and video evidence from witnesses have aided investigators in their job in recent years, and in this fire case specifically many of the photos were looked over.

Any time a person comes across a fire scene they should call 911 and then if they can safely take pictures, they should turn them in to fire investigators, he said.

UPDATE @ 9:55 a.m. (Sept. 29)

Investigators could not determine what exactly sparked the flames that destroyed the lodge at Mad River Mountain Ski Resort in Zanesfield earlier this month.

But the state fire marshal’s office said their investigation could not rule out the possibility that a discarded cigarette or electrical issue could be to blame, said Bill Krugh, spokesman for the fire marshal’s office.

Mad River Mountain — one of the largest tourism drivers in Logan County — plans to open for business this winter despite a massive fire that gutted its 53-year-old ski lodge, said general manager Tom Price.

UPDATE @ 12:00 p.m. (Sept. 18)

At least nine people reported the fire at the Mad River Mountain lodge Thursday night to 911 dispatchers.

“The mountain lodge down at the bottom is burning out of control,” one caller said.

Another caller said, “It looks like the building is on fire.”

UPDATE @ 1:08 p.m. (Sept. 17)

Tri Valley Fire District Chief Luann Davis said when crews arrived, the rear of the building was fully engulfed. She said by the time their fire truck was parked, the front of the building had collapsed. In total, 16 different fire departments responded.

“It was all wood so it had a lot of fuel for the fire,” Davis said. “It’s heart wrenching for everybody.”

The cause of the fire is undetermined at this time.

Ray McCarthy, assistant fire chief, State Fire Marshal, said it’s just the beginning of the investigation. It will likely take through the end of next week.

“The whole back of it is completely gone; collapsed in on top of each other, so we’re going to need heavy equipment to start basically peeling back the onion to take a look at it all,” McCarthy said.

He said there’s no indications of foul play. They are now interviewing all the employees that were there yesterday, and the owners are coming in from out of town.

Tom Price, general manager at Mad River, said he’s only been on the job in Zanesfield for five weeks.

“General manager position always comes with challenges; this is just a little bigger challenge than we expected but we’re optimistic,” Price said.

Price said there’s “no reason” people won’t be able to ski at the resort this winter season.

“I believe people can come to the ski area and get the same experience they had in the past,” Price said, just without the loft that was used for food service and lounging.

Price said at the peak of season, there are over 500 employees. He doesn’t foresee any jobs affected by this fire.

“People who skied here a lot will always remember the loft,” Price said. “But we will build and make comfortable arrangements.”

Price said there’s been an outpouring of people coming to see the burned building in person.

Jim Blue, of Richwood about 15 miles away in Union County, came to witness the destroyed building. He first learned to ski at Mad River in the 60s. His children and grandchildren subsequently learned the skill here too.

“This was sort of an iconic lodge in terms of ski slopes in the state of Ohio, and for me it just has a lot of history,” Blue said. “It’s devastating to see it in person in daylight. Hopefully they can get something going so they don’t miss the season. I hope it reopens this year.”

UPDATE @ 8:08 a.m. (Sept. 17)

A post on the Mad River Mountain Facebook page Wednesday night vows skiing will continue at the Logan County ski resort that was destroyed by fire.

The post read, “We are at a loss for words. The Loft was iconic. Thanks 2 all well wishers, firefighters & public safety. #wewillstillski #memorieslive4ever”

UPDATE @ 6 a.m. (Sept. 17) Fire crews have remained on scene of a fire at the Mad River Mountain Ski Resort and continue to put out hot spots.

Crews have sprayed water on the lodge about every 30 minutes throughout the night.

UPDATE @ 10:10 p.m.: The fire that has destroyed the main building of the Mad River Mountain Ski Resort in the Main Base Lodge is under control and crews will be on scene all night dealing with hot spots, said Helen Norris, Logan County Emergency Management Agency director.

The State Fire Marshal’s office has been contacted and an investigation team will be at the scene in the morning, she said.

Norris said there have been no injuries and families living near the resort were kept away from their homes once the fire broke out. She had no firm accounting as to how many families were affected by that order.

Chester Brown, who lives near the resort, was on his way home from work and was not allowed to get to his house. His wife, who was at home when the fire started, was not allowed to leave. He said she sent him photos of the fire via her cellphone.

“It looked like an inferno,” Brown said.

Norris said there has been no determination as to what caused the fire, which was reported about 7:25 p.m. She noted that it’s too early to say whether the fire is suspicious.

The lodge was closed at the time of the fire, Norris said, and no other buildings or houses nearby were damaged.

More than 15 fire departments from four counties (Logan, Union, Hardin and Champaign) responded to the dispatch about the fire. Norris said she stopped counting at 50 when asked how many pieces of fire equipment were on scene.


A large fire has caused significant damage to the Mad River Mountain lodge.

We have received phone calls and emails about the fire, which broke out sometime between 7:30 and 8 p.m.

Mad River Mountain is the state’s largest ski resort.

We have crews on the way and we will update this report as we get details.

Changes promised in wake of racially insensitive basketball jerseys incident

Published: Tuesday, January 16, 2018 @ 10:31 PM

Kings Schools Superintendent Tim Ackermann speaks about the basketball jersey incident and the resignation of board member Terry McKiernan during a school board meeting Tuesday, Jan. 16. (Nick Graham/Staff)
Kings Schools Superintendent Tim Ackermann speaks about the basketball jersey incident and the resignation of board member Terry McKiernan during a school board meeting Tuesday, Jan. 16. (Nick Graham/Staff)

Changes are being promised for Kings Schools in the wake of last week’s racist incident that drew national attention, but Tuesday evening district officials said details about those changes will come later.

That was the message from Kings’ leader and school board members, who took the resignation of their board vice president in the wake of some white, local teens wearing basketball jerseys that displayed racist slurs.

 MORE: Kings and Mason schools facing outcry in wake of racial incidents

The Kings Board of Education voted 4-0 to formally accept the resignation of member Kerry McKiernan, who previously cited his own failure in stopping some of the boys on the recreational league basketball team – not affiliated with Kings -- from wearing jerseys with names that appeared to slur African-Americans.

The names on the backs of the jerseys included "Knee Grow" and "Coon." The team played in the Cincinnati Premier Youth Basketball League.

McKiernan, whose son played on the now banned team that used Kings’ facilities, did not attend Tuesday’s board meeting and has not responded to requests for comment.

Last week McKiernan emotionally announced his intentions to resign, citing his failure to stop the team from wearing the jerseys during its first four games.

 MORE: Kings board member and father said he shares responsibility for failing to report racist jerseys

Superintendent Tim Ackermann told this news outlet he will soon be proposing systemic changes design to raise student, school staffers and community members’ awareness of the importance of racial and other diversity for the predominately white Warren County district.

“It’s really important to move forward and sustainable change is extremely important to us so that we can work to create a more loving, acceptable tolerant society,” said Ackermann. “We believe this is a community and societal issue around racism … intolerance, hate and bigotry and we all need to work together to make Kings the best place for all of our kids.”

He declined, however, to give details as to what district efforts are coming, saying the changes are still being studied.

“I don’t want to create something just to create something. Sustainable change doesn’t happen overnight,” said Ackermann.

Tom Squires, an African-American parent at Kings, was among the more than a dozen residents who attended the board meeting.

Afterward, Squires said the jersey incident, which has drawn national media attention, was “unfortunate.”

“We didn’t pay that close of attention as parents and we should have. We have to react swiftly and we have to make sure that people understand that this is not a district that condones that kind of thing,” said Squires, who has lived in the Deerfield Twp. school community for more than a decade.

“When you make a mistake you have to make sure you correct that mistake. Sometimes it’s not always fast but we have to make sure we make the right correction,” he said. 

“This thing (reaction to the incident) is still evolving so it’s kind of hard for me to be critical of the district. They are still trying to make the correction and I think we should give them the opportunity to do so,” said Squires.

Under Ohio school law, the board now has until Feb. 9 to appoint a new board member and agreed during its meeting to accept applications until 4 p.m. on Jan. 24.

Applications will soon be available on the Kings Schools website.

The board will then vote at its Jan. 31 meeting – after interviewing all applicants – on who will fill McKiernan’s seat through his term, which ends December 2019.

VIDEOS: Meteor spotted in Ohio, Michigan, Canada

Published: Tuesday, January 16, 2018 @ 10:06 PM

Meteorite spotted over midwestern states

The fireball lit up the sky Tuesday just after 8 p.m.

>>Bitter cold temperatures to continue

The dashboard cam video was shared by Mike Austin as he was driving north on I-75 near Bloomfield Hills, north of Detroit, Michigan. 

The fireball was also seen from northwest Ohio and southwest Ontario, Canada. 

It is not known whether the meteorite dissipated in the atmosphere or made it to the ground or into Lake Michigan.

Dashcam video shot by WWMT/Kalamazoo photo journalist Zack Lawler in Battle Creek, Michigan.

MONTAGE: Beams of light caused by meteor in Michigan

Fireplace embers ignite house fire on Kensington Drive in Dayton

Published: Tuesday, January 16, 2018 @ 10:08 PM
Updated: Tuesday, January 16, 2018 @ 11:39 PM

UPDATE @ 10:49 p.m.: Burning embers that jumped from the fireplace onto something combustible led to the house fire on Kensington Drive, Dayton Fire Battalion Chief Barry Rose said. 

The resident started the fire and then left the house. He was not injured, Rose said. 

Rose estimated the damage to the structure and contents at $10,000.


Crews are on the scene of a house fire in the 1900 block of Kensington Drive in Dayton. 

We're hearing there is fire in the attic of the 1-1/2 story dwelling. Crews were dispatched about 9:45 p.m. 

OTHER LOCAL NEWS: Coroner IDs Greenville house fire victim

We're also hearing that everyone who was inside has been able to escape without injury. 

We have a crew on the way. We will update this developing report. Stay with for breaking news. 

Got a tip? Call our monitored 24-hour line, 937-259-2237, or send it to 

Warren County’s Massie Twp. meeting tonight over fire department future

Published: Tuesday, January 16, 2018 @ 11:43 AM

            The Massie Twp. Board of Trustees has called a special meeting for 6:30 p.m. today to discuss the future of the township fire department.
The Massie Twp. Board of Trustees has called a special meeting for 6:30 p.m. today to discuss the future of the township fire department.

The Massie Twp. Board of Trustees called a special meeting for 6:30 p.m. today to discuss the future of the township fire department.

Fire Chief Scott Hines, the department’s only paid employee, resigned on Jan. 2 after learning he was under scrutiny for purchasing food for firefighters, and part of the department’s entirely volunteer force resigned too.

“They left us with a skeleton crew,” Trustee David Crisenbery said this morning.

MORE: Safety questions raised about Caesar Creek marina

The township, home to about 1,500 residents, is on the south side of Caesar Creek Lake. The department handles emergency calls from the lake.

Since Hines’ resignation, fire and emergency calls are being handled by the remaining department along with mutual aid from fire departments in Wayne Twp., Warren County, and Chester Twp., Clinton County.

The trustees are also weighing creating a joint fire district with Chester Twp. with new levies supporting the operation.

“That is the goal,” Trustee Daryl McKinney said.

MORE: Coach boating with daughter drowns in Caesar Creek Lake

A larger district qualifies for more grants, McKinney said.

The Massie Twp department operates on a $92,000 budget from two levies.

MORE: Beavercreek Twp. to build $2.5 million fire station

Crisenbery said the township could seek an additional local levy to fund part-time paid firefighters. Also, Hines’ replacement could be picked, Crisenbery added.

“Anything’s possible tonight,” Crisenbery said. “All options, I feel, should be on the table.”

Hines said he was working with the Village of Harveysburg on creating a fire department, taking over fire and ambulance services within its municipal limits within Massie Twp.

He accused Trustee Mark Dawson of “micromanaging” him for more than two years.

“I just got tired of it,” he said.

Dawson could not be reached to respond.

The meeting begins at 6:30 p.m. Tuesday at the township fire station, 10 N. Harveysburg Road.