WEST MAHONING TOWNSHIP — The temperature hovered near single digits Friday evening as firefighters rushed to extinguish a fire that engulfed a local furniture shop between Smicksburg and Trade City.
The fire broke out between 9 and 9:30 p.m. in a pole-barn type structure on Stephenson Road, a relatively new business venture by Roman Byler, according to Assistant Chief Rick Stenman of the Plumville fire company.
The entire building, in a 40-by-80-foot frame, Stenman estimated, was ablaze as the first firetrucks arrived and with its fate apparent, the owner asked firefighters to turn off their hoses.
“They said it would be easier to clean up,” Stenman said. “Since there was no insurance involved, they said it would be easier for them and they just wanted to let it burn out.”
The owner told Stenman that he saw a light in the building as he was returning to his nearby house, found a fire inside the shop and tried to put it out with a handheld extinguisher.
“But it was beyond controlling it with that,” Stenman said. “I don’t know how long it took for him to get to phone service so they could make a call. And his attempt to put it out also delayed the call to 911.”
The shop and store was one of many operated by woodworkers in the Amish community of northwestern Indiana County, but was one of the newest, according to Stenman.
The fire spread through the building while Byler sought a telephone to contact 911 with the emergency.
Dispatchers sounded the first alarm at 9:35 p.m.
“It was actually collapsing as the first units arrived,” Stenman said.
It wasn’t long before Plumville officers advised other area firefighters to stay at their stations if they had not yet rolled their trucks.
The Marion Center, Dayton and Perry Township fire departments had been dispatched to assist the Plumville company, and Creekside firefighters were sent a short time later to standby at the Plumville fire station.
The Indiana County rapid-intervention team and Citizens’ Ambulance Service responded. No one was hurt, Stenman said.