Fire marshal investigating back-to-back fires at vacant Harrison Twp. building

Local News

HARRISON TWP., Ohio (WDTN) – Investigators say two fires in two days at the same building are cause for suspicion. Wednesday, flames destroyed the former commercial print shop in Harrison Township.

Reports of a large fire came in after 5:00 a.m. Wednesday at the building on Needmore Road, between North Dixie Drive and I-75. 

“Our fire house is literally two blocks up the street. As soon as they came out of the door, they saw the building was completely engulfed,” Harrison Township fire chief Mark Lynch said of his crews.

The flames were too intense for firefighters to enter the building and they used a ladder truck to attack the fire from above. They closed down one block of Needmore for four hours during the fire fight.

Neighbor Raymond Milby could see heavy smoke, flames and fire trucks from the front window of his house on Needmore Road.

“[It was a] huge blaze of fire,” Milby said. “I took a video of it there was so much fire coming out of it.”

No was inside during the fire and there were no reports of injuries.

Investigators said the former print shop has been sitting empty since it closed in 2015, but recent investigations suggest it may have been unlawfully occupied.

Tuesday morning around 5:00 a.m., the fire chief said the department responded to another, smaller fire in the front porch of the building. It was deemed suspicious during the subsequent investigation when crews found evidence of squatters living inside.

“There was no suspect information or anything like that, no witnesses, possibly the same person [committed both fires],” Chief Lynch explained.

Milby said the proximity of the back-to-back fires is concerning.

“The thought of having someone committing arson around is scary,” he said.

The fire marshal told 2 NEWS the fires are part of an on-going investigation, but declined to comment on the nature of the investigation.

The township and property owners will decide if the building will need to be demolished.

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