Fire Marshal releases Emmitt House videos

By Wayne Allen

February 11, 2014

By Wayne Allen


The Ohio Fire Marshal released three videos Tuesday from the Emmitt House fire in Waverly last month, in an effort to gain additional information from the public.

“Investigators know from witness statements, video footage and other evidence that the fire was well involved for between 30-45 minutes before the fire was discovered and subsequently called in. The Division of State Fire Marshal is still seeking information, photos and/or video from the public at or around the time of the start of the fire which may prove instrumental in determining the cause of this fire,” said Michael Duchesne, assistant director of communications, Ohio Department of Commerce.

Duchesne said there has been an abundance of corporation from those that may have useful information towards the investigation.

“We have gotten quite a bit of stuff, but we have also been seeing on social media some people saying that they have stuff, they don’t want to give up, for whatever reason,” Duchesne said. “We would be interested if anybody does have photos or video around the time that the fire started, we would very much like to see that. It is very important we get as much assistance from the public on this one as possible.”

In one video there are two law enforcement officers inside the building warned by Chief Randy Armbruster of the Waverly Fire Department to evacuate the building just as the rear of the second floor collapses. This video demonstrates just how close this fire came to being potentially fatal to first responders.

Video two shows a camera view from second floor as the rear collapses.

According to officials, video three is the earliest known video from a spectator which shows the rear of the second floor collapsing.

According to information at www.travelohio.com, “the year 1861 may have been the most traumatic year in this nation’s history. The nation was split by civil war, and the first man from Waverly was killed in battle, John Barnes, had died in June, 1861. Waverly resident’s, caught in the national war frenzy, still took time out to admire the construction of James Emmitt’s new hotel at the corner of Water and Market streets. The Emmitt House was being constructed on the site of an earlier frame hotel, originally owned by a former business partner of James Emmitt. Emmitt, the town’s main entrepreneur, was building the hotel in anticipation of his greatest political achievement, the transfer of the county seat from Piketon to Waverly. The Emmitt House is listed on the National Register of Historical Places.”

Anyone with any such information is asked to contact the Fire and Explosion Investigation Bureau at (800) 589-2728.

Wayne Allen can be reached at 740-353-3101, ext. 228 or on Twitter @WayneallenPDT