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.

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Winter Weather Advisory for Butler County starts Saturday

Published: Friday, March 23, 2018 @ 4:38 AM
Updated: Friday, March 23, 2018 @ 10:35 PM

Sunshine is expected this afternoon, with snow possible in parts of the Dayton area Saturday.

Clouds will increase overnight, with temperatures falling into the upper 20s by morning, Storm Center 7 Chief Meteorologist Eric Elwell said.


  • Winter Weather Advisory for Butler County from 2 a.m. Saturday to 2 a.m. Sunday
  • Scattered snow by late morning, mainly south of I-70
  • Warmer weather pattern next week

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5 Day Forecast with Chief Meteorologist Eric Elwell

>> Live Doppler 7 HD Interactive Radar 


Saturday: Scattered snow will develop in the morning, mainly south of Interstate 70. Snow showers will be on and off into the evening. Little or no snow accumulation is expected north of I-70. Accumulation of 1 inch or less is expected across Preble, Montgomery and Clark and Greene Counties. Around 1 to 3 inches will be possible in Butler County along with southern Warren and Clinton counties. Highs will be in the upper 30s with breezy conditions at times.

 >> 5-Day Forecast

Sunday: Clouds will clear with temperatures moderating back into the middle 40s.

Monday: Sunshine will start the day but clouds will increase through the afternoon. It will be milder with highs reaching into the lower 50s.

WHIO Weather App

Tuesday: More seasonable temperatures are expected but showers will be possible. Highs will be in the middle 50s.

Wednesday: Showers will be likely with highs in the upper 50s.

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Congress OKs $450,000 for Wright brothers factory buildings

Published: Friday, March 23, 2018 @ 6:28 PM

            Wright Airplane Factory buildings were occupied by Delphi until 2009. TY GREENLEES / STAFF FILE PHOTO
            Ty Greenlees
Wright Airplane Factory buildings were occupied by Delphi until 2009. TY GREENLEES / STAFF FILE PHOTO(Ty Greenlees)

The National Park Service will have $450,000 to buy two historic buildings at the former Wright Co. airplane factory site in West Dayton under a $1.3 trillion federal omnibus spending bill President Donald Trump signed Friday.

But the years-long quest to buy buildings 1 and 2, the first factory in the world to produce airplanes, is anything but over, officials say.

“It’s a small, positive step in a long, difficult march,” said Timothy Gaffney, a National Aviation Heritage Alliance spokesman.

The Park Service and the National Aviation Heritage Alliance have longed eyed the buildings in the hope the public would be able to see the site as part of the Dayton Aviation Heritage National Historical Park.

RELATED: Alliance in talks for Wright factory

Kendell Thompson, the parks’ acting superintendent, said Friday he was waiting to determine what the next step is in the process.

The historic buildings are part of a 54-acre parcel, site of the former Delphi Home Avenue plant, that has been put on the commercial market. The historic site at 2701 Home Ave. is between U.S. 35 and West Third Street near Abbey Avenue.

A previous plan to buy the entire site was scaled back, according to Tony Sculimbrene, executive director of the National Aviation Heritage Alliance, who has spent years in negotiations on the future of the historic location.

The complexity of negotiations has been complicated by former owner Delphi’s past bankruptcy, land covenants and environmental liability concerns, Sculimbrene said. Former auto parts production buildings were demolished and the site has been environmentally investigated and remediated under a $3 million Clean Ohio grant, officials said.

RELATED: Rare Wright brothers propeller headed from Dayton to Colorado museum

Hull & Associates/Home Avenue Redevelopment LLC purchased the site in 2012 with the intent to remediate environmental issues and sell it. The property is for sale on the commercial market.

Brad White, a managing partner of Home Avenue Redevelopment LLC, said the $450,000 appropriation was “good news” because the intent over the years was to sell the historic buildings to the National Park Service.

David Lotterer, vice president of commercial real estate broker JLL, which is marketing the property, declined comment Friday.

While the park service has eyed the two historic buildings, Dayton Metro Library plans to build a $10 million branch library on about seven and a half acres on the site have stalled because officials have not been able to reach a deal, the Dayton Daily News reported this month.

Dayton Metro Library executive director Tim Kambitsch said earlier this month the library did not want to move to the site on its own because of concerns incompatible uses might move in nearby, and it did not want to pay more than the property was valued.

RELATED: Backers want Ohio Aviation Hall of Fame at future monument site

NAHA’s long-term vision of the property would bring commercial and “complimentary” industrial redevelopment, such as advanced manufacturing, to the former factory site, Gaffney said.

Orville and Wilbur Wright’s airplane factory built 100 airplanes between 1910-1911. General Motors and later Delphi acquired the property, and built new factories to manufacture auto parts for decades. The Delphi plant was demolished in 2013.

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False alarm sends police to Troy Christian Elementary

Published: Friday, March 23, 2018 @ 1:34 PM

Panic alarm pushed accidentally causing school to go into lockdown Friday afternoon.

A false emergency alarm prompted police to respond to Troy Christian Elementary school, police said.

Officers responded to the school around 1 p.m. and the school was placed on lockdown while police searched the building.

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Police said 16 officers responded.

The emergency alarm button was pressed unintentionally and there is an investigation underway to determine who pressed the button, police said.

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Nothing was found and the school has resumed to normal operation, police said.

The school already was scheduled to dismiss early at 1 p.m.

Got a tip? Call our 24-hour monitored line, 937-259-2237, or send it to newsdesk@cmgohio.com

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Did you know that Dayton once had a UNICORN bar?

Published: Thursday, March 22, 2018 @ 6:00 AM

This photo is not from the Unicorn Restaurant and Lounge, but we can image.
Source: Shutterstock
This photo is not from the Unicorn Restaurant and Lounge, but we can image.(Source: Shutterstock)

Yaaaas, my mystical queen and kings, what you’ve heard is true. 

Downtown Dayton DID have an unicorn bar

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But as co-owner of the Century bar Diane Spitzig remembers, the Unicorn Restaurant and Lounge wasn’t exactly firing rainbows from where the sun don’t shine. 

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“It was just a bar,” she recalled. 

The small corner bar was at 100 E. Third St. next to the Century in what has been rebranded downtown Dayton’s Fire Blocks District

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From what we can tell from a search of state records, it was incorporated in 1984 as Unicorn Lounge. 

Its official closing date is listed as March 9, 2004. 

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The name at least was ahead of its time, as unicorns are all the rage these days. 

Local resident and musician Aarika Voegele hung out at the bar with her brother. 

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“They were always real nice,” she responded on Facebook. “I remember a wooden bar that stretched (through) the place, and it being somewhat packed with regulars. If I remember correctly, there was a jukebox towards the back. It was a very mellow bar, from my experience.”

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As some recalled, the bar owned by John Demetriades had a neon unicorn head in its window.

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Little evidence of the Unicorn could be found in the Dayton Daily News archives. 

Articles uncovered point to difficult times in the Unicorn’s final years.

A 1999 story involved two brothers attacking a bartender. 

In an a 2002 article about the city’s objections to the renewal of its liquor permit and those of about a dozen other businesses, it was reported that the Unicorn’s owner insisted that crimes around the bar were unrelated to the business. 

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The space that formerly held the Unicorn was the site of the Dayton Circus art event in 2009.

Since there is no Unicorn for us to visit today, we can only imagine the shenanigans that could be going down there at this very moment.

The Unicorn Restaurant and Lounge was closed long before this photo was taken, but we have our imaginations.(Photo source: Shutterstock)

The Unicorn Restaurant and Lounge was closed long before this photo was taken, but we have our imaginations.(Photo source: Shutterstock)

This photo is not from the Unicorn Restaurant and Lounge, but we can image.(Source: Shutterstock)

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