Firefighters wait for plant fire in Painesville Township to burn itself out

PAINESVILLE TOWNSHIP, Ohio - The three-story building that once housed Hardy Industrial Technologies in Painesville Township was stilling burning Friday night.

Firefighters remain at the scene, while hot spots continue to flare up. The fire department has decided to let the fire completely burn out, while treating some areas with water and foam.

"We've never some of the things that we did on this fire. And that's what we call completely defensive," Painesville Township Fire Chief Frank Wittaker said. "We never put anyone in this building from the start. Because we basically realized this was not going to be a winner, by any means."

The fire started at the plant on Hardy Road just before 10 a.m. Thursday and smoke could be seen for miles around. Hardy Industrial Technologies makes a type of animal feed using hydrogenated vegetable oil. According to the chief, about 20,000 gallons of that was involved in this fire.

"The fire got quite a head start," Wittaker said. "We feared that there could be an explosive and although that fear, although that risk be small… What were we going to gain by staying on site? It's still burning now."

Wittaker said the air is safe, non-toxic and they will continue to monitor it.

On Thursday, the fire department said two plant workers suffered exposure to heat and smoke, but were not taken to the hospital.

The Riverside Local School District sent a message home to parents because they could not drop off any Township Park and Lake Erie Shore students until fire official gave them the go-ahead. Students were kept at LaMuth Middle School and Riverside High School.

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