Sep 29, 2005

Fire Destroys Historic Toledo Building

A massive fire broke out at 114 Ontario Street just past noon today, and firefighters continued to battle the blaze well into the night. There were no reported injuries.

Crews began this evening to demolish the rest of the structure in an effort to keep the flames from spreading to nearby buildings. Portions of the structure collapsed earlier in the day, and there were reports of damage to parked cars.

The building, vacant for most of the past decade, was built in 1887, and was once home to Arbuckle, Ryan, and Company. Fire officials called the fire "suspicious."

Left: Lucas County Assessor photo of the building, circa 1999

Another piece of Toledo history is gone, this time to a three-alarm blaze. I hope that the fire was not intentionally set; preservation efforts in Toledo are difficult enough without arsonists willfully practicing their fiery craft.

Interesting note: both the Blade and WTVG put the date of construction at 1895, while the county records clearly list it as 1887. WSPD and WNWO were the closest, each calling the structure a "120-year old building." Want the facts? Turn to historymike, who has been trained to be concerned about things like details.

Addendum: in this morning's edition (9-30), the Blade got the date right.


Anonymous said...

Sad to see it go, although it has mostly rotted since the 1990s.

Anonymous said...

Yes. I wish someone had fixed it up again.

Hooda Thunkit said...

That I'm sad to say IS preservation Toledo style...

I've seen postcards of the Arbuckle building on eBay but never quite placed it there. I always thought that is was located somewhere around St. Clair and Jefferson.

I listened to the Fire and heard a Chief, probably on exposure B, requested a third alarm, but was asked for more justification by the Ops Chief (Metzger). Metzger pointed out that there appeared to be enough manpower. The request was withdrawn.

Toledo Fire appears reluctant to ever call a third alarm, even when the manpower on scene and equipment exceeds a third alarm, it is still a second alarm.

Must be an insurance rating thing.


BTW: 4 of the 3 bucket/ladder trucks were at this fire. (you read it right)

Anonymous said...

GuestZero here.

As reported, the building had had no power, and in the 2 minutes it took for fire response crews to arrive, flames were able to shoot up out of the roof.

THEREFORE, this was arson, pure and simple. Reports also exist about a man who was witnessed walking away from the building at the time, heading north on Ontario. He was likely the arsonist.

The building owner had been in trouble since August for back taxes. Suddenly (i.e. less than 1 month later) the building burns. It doesn't take a genius to figure out that the likeliest scenario is that the owner paid some flunky to torch the building to escape all committments.

Of course, Toledo just doesn't care about arson. So the building was torn down almost immediately, therefore destroying the evidence. This is really the last that we'll ever hear about the incident. Certainly the Blade won't followup on the story since the Blade is heavily biased towards downtown revitalization. The Arbuckle building was not being renovated on their schedule, hence having it effectively swept away is completely OK with them.

In the silence after this arson event, another dog of a building in the area will burn. (My prediction is that Pythian Castle (the corner of Ontario and Jefferson) will burn up "mysteriously" within 2 years. Pythian Castle is the building that allegedly sold for $2000 in 1997 or so, but that the owner reportedly claimed to have spent $250K renovating it. I'd bet $20 right now that PC's owner owes back taxes on that property.)

And then another building will burn; then another; etc.

A post-industrial cityscape in decline is always INTENTIONALLY BURNED, with some further fires resulting from neglect. These things are burned for a variety of reasons:

1. Insurance scams.
2. Destruction of incriminating evidence (hence such buildings are handy for the criminal class).
3. Escape from political obligations (like back taxes, etc.).
4. Pure spite, in some cases.
5. Land clearing for development without resorting to obsolete concepts like regulation and negotiation.