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Published: Tuesday, November 17, 2015 @ 6:05 PM
Updated: Wednesday, November 18, 2015 @ 4:09 PM
HARRISON TWP. — A fire that destroyed several “irreplaceable” cars and artifacts of America’s Packard Museum is potentially linked to vandalism at the warehouse.
UPDATE @ 4:10 p.m. (Nov. 18)
The fire at a warehouse on Ome Avenue is the result of a human act, but it’s unknown whether it was intentionally set, said Chief Josh Hobbes of the state fire marshal’s office.
The fire is potentially linked to vandalism at the warehouse, which was not secured and its utilities were turned off, Hobbes said. Anyone with information is urged to call a tip line: (800) 589-2728.
The value of the contents far exceeds the worth of the buildings, which might be razed, the fire official said.
UPDATE @ 12:23 p.m. (Nov. 18)
In a media release Wednesday, the staff at America’s Packard Museum said they are “heartbroken by the vandalism and fire that occurred last night at our warehouse on Ome Avenue.”
An investigation into the cause and scope of the damage is ongoing.
“We are attempting to come to grips with the enormity of the loss of irreplaceable vehicles and artifacts,” the statement said. “The Harrison Township Fire Department went above and beyond any reasonable expectation in preserving a great number of valuable vehicles. Our gratitude for their hard work and professionalism is unbounded. The outpouring of support we have already received, both emotional and by way of volunteered time and resources is sincerely appreciated.”
The museum is continuing normal operating hours of noon to 5 p.m. weekdays, 1 to 5 p.m. Saturday and Sunday.
UPDATE @ 10:47 a.m. (Nov. 18):
A spokesperson for the Packard Museum in downtown Dayton confirmed the fire on Ome Avenue is connected to their operation on Ludlow Street.
Fire crews are still working to put out hot spots on the scene.
We are still working to learn how many vehicles were destroyed.
The spokesperson described the situation for the museum as chaotic.
UPDATE @6:20 a.m. (Nov. 18)
Fire crews are back on the scene of a Tuesday evening fire to put out hot spots.
Firefighters were dispatched back to the scene shortly before 6 a.m.
UPDATE @ 8:45 p.m.: Several vintage Packard cars have been destroyed in the commercial fire on Ome Avenue,
“We never could count. We just knew there’s a ton of cars in that building,” said Harrison Twp. Fire Battalion Chief Darrin Wiseman, referring to three of four connected buildings at the end of the dead-end street that caught fire. Two of the buildings and half of a third have been destroyed. Wiseman said crews will be on scene for a few more hours tonight, dealing with hot spots.
Crews were dispatched about 6 p.m. on a report of a structure fire in the 2800 block of Ome Avenue, at the Lapp Roofing building. The Lapp building was fully involved, with flames showing through the roof, when firefighters arrived.
The flames spread to the other buildings as crews were hampered by poor water pressure from hydrants in the neighborhood as well as the windy conditions.
“We just couldn’t get enough pressure from the hydrants,” which intensified the fire, Wiseman said. “Most of the damage came from where they restore old vintage cars.”
Crews from Dayton, Vandalia and Riverside assisted the Harrison Twp. crews.
The scene is still too hot to figure out what caused the fire, he said, and that’s holding up establishing a damage estimate. Those details will have to come Wednesday, when investigators arrive and can comb through the debris.
Wiseman said the intensity of the flames, which burned power lines and trees near the buildings, and the several power poles with transformers in the area forced Dayton Power & Light to shut down the grid to the area, which threw residents into darkness.
DP&L crews are working to restore service in the neighborhood, he said.
“Thankfully, no one was inside working,” Wiseman said. No injuries were reported.
The Packard building is part of America’s Packard Museum on South Ludlow Street in downtown Dayton, billed as “the world’s only restored Packard Dealership operating as a museum, and the only full-time museum dedicated exclusively to the Packard Motor Car Company, its products and philosophies.”
UPDATE @ 6:50 p.m.: Fire officials tell us the Ome Avenue building that is burning appears to be an old roofing materials plant or storage facility and there are three other buildings connected to it.
The building is believed to be Lapp Roofing, in the 2800 block. And we’ve learned that the fire is spreading to one of the attached buildings. Trees near the buildings are burning as well.
Fire crews are having trouble with an aerial sprayer from a ladder truck because the building is the last one on the dead-end of Ome Avenue. There also are issues with water pressure coming from hydrants in the area and windy conditions.
Dayton Power & Light has a crew on scene because wires are burning and there are several power poles with attached transformers in the area.
Crews from Dayton, Vandalia and Riverside are on scene with Harrison Twp. crews.
There are no reports of any injuries.
Crews are on the scene of a fire in what is said to be a commercial structure at Ome and Belfonte avenues.
Additional crews are being dispatched to the fire, which was reported about 5:50 p.m.