Local departments fight ERS blaze

BELLAIRE A fire that broke out Thursday morning at Electronics Recycling Services (formerly the First Ward School) was fought by fire departments from all over Belmont County. The fire is said to have begun in the incinerator/basement area of the building. All employees were able to evacuate safely and no injuries were reported.

However, the fire blazed for several hours before it could be brought under control. Lt. Jason Greenwood, of OR&W Fire District, said the extreme heat forced firefighters to evacuate the building. An estimated 50 firefighters from at least 12 departments worked in a defensive position from outside the building. Crews from Neffs Fire Department, OR&W, and Martins Ferry initially showed up to answer the call, but more from Smith Township, Sunset Heights, Morristown, Bethesda, Belmont, Barnesville, Colerain, Tiltonsville, and Moundsville later arrived on scene to help out. The Salvation Army campaign supplied food and drinks for firefighters who had been on scene for most of the day.

Alan Ketzell, a coordinator for Belmont County Tanker Task Force, said the fire spread rapidly; within seconds of the Neffs Fire Department being dispatched an individual walking by the building called to report flames seen from outside.

All tanker task forces from the area were called in to assist in supplementing Bellaire’s water system.

“Each tanker more or less covers 2,000 gallons of water, so we’re moving a lot of water out of the Ohio River up at the marina,” said Ketzell. “We have eight tankers, we have five engines, there’s two engines up at the marina filling, we have two engines here to supply on the fire scene, and one in spare if we need it,” he added.

The fire eventually began to taper off at around 1:30 p.m.

“That’s when we got it contained and began to clean up some hotspots. We were there until at least 4:30 when all units got the clear,” said Neffs Fire Chief Mikey Nolton.

In the main building, the fire was mostly contained to the basement. However, a smaller metal structure will likely be unsalvageable. The fire marshal is investigating to find a cause.

Warner can be reached at mwarner@timesleaderonline.com.