NORTH CANTON, Ohio—The cause of a Jan. 19 fire that destroyed a rubber factory in Northeast Ohio has been ruled accidental.
The fire at Tristan Rubber Molding Inc. was the result of an employee using a handheld propane torch to thaw out a steam discharge line that was frozen by near-zero temperatures, according to findings by the Jackson Township Fire Department. A private insurance investigator for the company confirmed the ruling.
Damages are estimated at $3 million to the factory and contents. Tracy Hogue, Jackson Township fire chief, said the building, which is near a commercial area commonly called Belden Village Mall, was about 75 percent damaged. A firewall contained the flames to the north end of the building, but because a door in the wall was kept propped open, there was heat and water damage to the south end, the chief said.
Multiple attempts to reach company officials for comment were unsuccessful, but Ron Canterbury, vice president of manufacturing for Tristan Rubber, told a Cleveland TV news station, “We are going to move forward and re-build.” The company employs 40 people, Canterbury said.
Employees at Tristan Rubber Molding Inc. reported the fire around 9 a.m. Jan. 19. When Jackson Township Fire Department firefighters arrived shortly after, workers already had evacuated, and flames were showing through the roof. Heavy, black smoke poured from the structure and could be seen throughout the area.
Four neighboring fire departments assisted to extinguish the blaze. Crews had the fire under control after an hour but were on the scene for most of the day, overhauling the inside of the building.