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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.

FIRST REPORT

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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Wright State trustees fire former provost who was on paid leave for 3 years

Published: Wednesday, June 20, 2018 @ 7:27 PM

Former Wright State Provost Sundaram Narayanan, left, and his attorney Ted Copetas, right, sit in a Wright State board of trustees meeting on Wednesday, June 20, 2018. Trustees voted to terminate Narayanan’s position as a faculty member.
MAX FILBY / STAFF
Former Wright State Provost Sundaram Narayanan, left, and his attorney Ted Copetas, right, sit in a Wright State board of trustees meeting on Wednesday, June 20, 2018. Trustees voted to terminate Narayanan’s position as a faculty member.(MAX FILBY / STAFF)

Wright State University’s board of trustees voted to fire its former provost who has been on paid leave in a faculty position for more than three years.

Six of the board’s nine members voted this evening to fire Sundaram Narayanan effective June 30. Three board members were absent from the closed-door meeting Wednesday when trustees met with Narayanan and his attorney Ted Copetas.

“At the end of the day, Dr. Narayanan was a decision-maker at the highest levels of the university at a time that resulted in millions of dollars in losses and the board feels there needs to be accountability from our administrators … and I think in the end that’s what it came down to,” board chairman Doug Fecher said after the vote.

» RELATED: Wright State to layoff up to 40; expects $10M loss next year

Following the private meeting, trustees returned to public session and voted to accept president Cheryl Schrader’s recommendation to terminate Narayanan’s employment.

Narayanan was placed on paid leave in May 2015 when a federal investigation was launched possible violation of immigration laws at WSU.

There was nothing “happy or satisfying” about the decision trustees made Wednesday, Fecher said. Fecher said he hopes that the decision helps the university move on from the visa scandal.

How WSU trustees voted on Narayanan’s termination

Doug Fecher: Yes

Bruce Langos: Yes

Bill Montgomery: Yes

Stephanie Green: Yes

Grace Ramos: Yes

Anuj Goyal: Yes

Michael Bridges: Absent

C.D. Moore: Absent

Sean Fitzpatrick: Absent

“This was not easy. There’s nothing to be happy about,” Fecher said. “This was hopefully the end of a very long and difficult chapter in the university’s history and I’m hoping we can all begin to put this behind us and move on and learn what lessons need to be learned and put the university on the path to the success that it deserves.”

After Narayanan and Copetas met with trustees behind closed doors, the former provost declined to comment on the then-pending decision. But, before trustees voted to fire Narayanan, Copetas said he thought the meeting “went very well.”

“I thought we made our point for the board and I can only hope that they make their decision based on the evidence and the record,” Copetas said before the vote.

Narayanan was one of four university administrators initially suspended in May 2015 because of the federal probe, which a Dayton Daily News investigation revealed was related to the university’s use of H-1B temporary work visas to secure employees for an area IT staffing firm.

» RELATED: Wright State pilot program saves students thousands on textbooks

University researcher Phani Kidambi, who was also suspended since May 2015 because of the federal probe, resigned from the university in August, records show.

The two others were university chief general counsel Gwen Mattison and senior advisor to the provost Ryan Fendley. Mattison was forced to retire in August 2015 with a $301,331 separation payment.

Sundaram Narayanan, former provost at Wright State University. CONTRIBUTED(Staff Writer)

Fendley was fired in August 2015, but then filed two lawsuits against the university. A breach of contract suit was settled with Wright State Applied Research Corporation paying him $13,209. A wrongful termination lawsuit filed by Fendley in the Ohio Court of Claims was decided in Wright State’s favor in September.

Copetas has not said whether he and Narayanan would file a lawsuit if the university terminated the former provost.

“We’ll have to evaluate our options after the board of trustees makes that decision,” Copetas told ;this news organization last week.

While Fecher said he hopes another lawsuit isn’t in the university’s future, he said Wright State’s leaders would handle one if it’s filed.

“That’s always a possibility,” Fecher said. “We’ll handle that if it comes. But, I don’t know that you can let that type of thing affect the kinds of decisions that you feel need to be made.”

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Storm Center 7’s Kirstie Zontini flies with U.S. Navy Blue Angels

Published: Wednesday, June 20, 2018 @ 8:26 AM
Updated: Wednesday, June 20, 2018 @ 6:00 PM

Kirstie Zontini prepares to fly with U.S. Navy Blue Angels

It was a ride of a lifetime for Storm Center 7 Daybreak meteorologist Kirstie Zontini, who suited up Wednesday afternoon with the U.S. Navy Blue Angels.

The flight crew is in town for this weekend’s Vectren Dayton Air Show.

Zontini took off with the team at 4:30 p.m., and is now safely back on the ground after quite the ride on an F/A-18C Hornet aircraft.

This Blue Angels jet has made its arrival at the Dayton Air Show.

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The Blue Angels are making their first appearance at the Vectren Dayton Air Show since 2014.

The fastest speed the team reaches during its performances is about 700 mph.

News Center 7 will bring you the behind the scenes look at the team and Zontini’s flight throughout Wednesday.

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

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Chance for showers and storms tonight, into start of weekend

Published: Wednesday, June 20, 2018 @ 4:15 AM
Updated: Wednesday, June 20, 2018 @ 7:00 PM

Heavy downpours and gusty winds are possible Wednesday.

QUICK-LOOK FORECAST

  • Passing showers and storms this evening
  • Temperatures cool a bit Thursday
  • Increasing rain chances late Thursday into Friday

>> LIVE Doppler 7 Interactive HD Radar

DETAILED FORECAST

This evening/overnight: Expect passing showers and a chance for a few thunderstorms through sunset, Storm Center 7 Meteorologist Eric Elwell said. Most showers and storms should dissipate after dark, Elwell said. 

Temperatures will hold into the 80s before falling to a low in the middle to upper 60s overnight under partly cloudy skies, Elwell said.

>> FLOODING: Know your risks

Thursday: Partly cloudy skies and a break in humidity to start the day. However, a front will quickly return to the area, bringing the threat for more showers and storms by the afternoon and into the evening. Highs will reach the upper 70s. 

Friday: Mostly cloudy skies with numerous showers and storms likely especially in the afternoon. A few storms could be severe, along with locally heavy rainfall. Highs will be near 80 degrees. 

>> Cloudy with a chance of podcast

Saturday: A mix of sun and clouds to start the weekend with a passing shower or storm possible, especially in southern counties. Highs will hold in the upper 70s.  

>> WHIO free Weather App

Sunday: Expect a mix of sun and clouds with another changer for a shower or storm, mainly in southern counties. Highs will be in the lower 80s. 

>> The UV index explained

Monday: Mostly sunny skies return with highs reaching the lower 80s. 

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Crews respond to report of partial structure collapse in Dayton

Published: Wednesday, June 20, 2018 @ 5:54 PM
Updated: Wednesday, June 20, 2018 @ 6:10 PM

Woman falls through porch in Dayton

UPDATE @ 6:10 p.m.

A 40-year-old woman fell through a concrete porch this evening and was taken to Miami Valley Hospital.

The woman was a visitor to the duplex in the 1400 block of Hochwalt Avenue.

The woman’s injuries are considered not life-threatening, and a building inspector has been called, Dayton fire officials said.

Yellow caution tape has been placed on the porch.

FIRST REPORT

Crews were called this evening to a report of a partial structure collapse.

The incident was reported around 5:40 p.m. in the 1400 block of Hochwalt Avenue in Dayton.

According to initial reports, a woman fell through a porch when it caved in. 

We have a crew on the way and will update this report.

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

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