By Frank Lewis
One year later, the fire that destroyed Crabtree’s Carpet store in Lucasville, remains fresh on the minds of those closest to the situation.
“I’ll never forget that,” Teri Horton, Chief of the Valley Township Fire Department, said. “My first thought was – we need more help and we needed Rosemount’s ladder truck. When everyone started arriving on the scene, I remember thinking – Oh Lord, let me get these people back home safe and the sadness I felt for Jason (Crabtree) and his family.”
There are moments that become ominous and Horton remembers that moment.
“Once you put that ladder truck, tower on a fire, it’s done,” Horton said. “You know that you’ve lost your building. You’re pushing that fire out into the rest of the building, but when we got on the scene I was just hoping we could get back there and get it stopped but it was no time until it came through the back of the building and I had to get my men out.”
Horton sent two men in from Jefferson Township and switched them out with two more firefighters as she stood in the doorway watching for the safety of those in her charge. That’s when she saw the flames come through the back of the building, leading her to call a “mayday,” and get the firefighters to safety. In all, nine fire departments came to the scene. At one point some 75 people responded.
Anyone who was on the scene that morning was not only hampered in their efforts by the flames, but with freezing temperatures, the water being shot onto the fire was quickly turning to ice.
“We just had ice all over us,” Horton said. “There comes a point to where you don’t feel the cold and then when everything gets under control then guys start feeling the coldness and you have all that water on the ground.”
She said the Ohio Department of Transportation (ODOT) arrived and offered to put down any materials that would help her. Those involved used a little over a million gallons of water that night.
“There was a building within six inches of the back of that building and power lines within feet and we scorched nothing,” Horton said, expressing pride in the work of those who battled the blaze. “We burnt nothing. We kept the gas station safe. The guy that lived beside it came out of his house and was crying, saying, ‘I know I’m going to lose my home,’ and my captain, Shane Conley said , ‘no you’re not,’ and they made sure that that side of that building did not burn.”
Horton said, in 38 years of firefighting, that was the biggest fire she was ever involved with.
“I thank God that we all got home safe,” Horton said. “I feel bad for the whole Crabtree family because they’ve lost a big business, but Jason is a fighter and I’m sure he will get back on his feet.”
Attempts to reach Crabtree’s Carpet for comment were unsuccessful.
A spokeswoman with the State Fire Marshal’s Office said the case of the fire remains open and still under investigation which she said is not unusual.
Reach Frank Lewis at 740-353-3101, ext. 1928, or on Twitter @franklewis.