By FRANK LEWIS PDT Staff Writer
A Minford business landmark was destroyed by fire in the morning hours Monday.
The Minford Fire Department was called to Minford Motorsports, a four-wheeler dealership, 10288 Ohio 139, shortly before 11 a.m..
"What we ran into was heavy fire. Upon arrival it was already coming through the roof," said Minford Fire Chief James Shoemaker, as his men attempted to knock down the fire. "We called mutual aid and we've got the fire marshal on the scene.
Fire companies have come in here and killed all the electric, and right now we are just trying to determine what happened."
Shoemaker said it had not as yet been determined what caused the fire.
"The fire marshal is on the scene. He's interviewing the owner of the four-wheeler shop that was here, and the customers that were inside at the time," Shoemaker said.
In addition to destroying the main building, fire destroyed a grain facility in the back of what had for a number of years been Minford Farm Center.
"It's an old grain bin where it used to be the feed store for mixing stuff," Shoemaker said. "It all burned and came down."
Shoemaker called for and received support from several other area fire departments.
"We have Jefferson, Rubyville, Stockdale and Porter, and, of course, Minford Squad Three," Shoemaker said. "And I don't know how many trucks we have because I have not had time to count."
Dave Prater, of Porter Township Fire Department stood atop a ladder truck hosing down the middle of the building, and other firefighters worked behind the building and in the grain bin as flames continue to rage and smoke rose high into the air.
"We contacted a local gentleman and he went to get a backhoe, so we can start shoving the block walls that are falling out, so it's not a hazard to anybody or anything like that," Shoemaker said.
At the edge of the perimeter building owner Ken Rase and his daughter watched as the building continued to disintegrate to ashes.
"Bob Boyes leased it from me, and he was leasing it for about two years," Rase said.
Rase said there were other components to the business.
"He sold used four-wheelers and also parts and inventory for four-wheelers."
Rase said he (Rase) has owned the building since 1992.
"It had been a feed store business for over 50 years and I operated it for about 15 (years)," Rase said. "There have been a lot of employees here and a lot of memories. It's one of those things that happens in life I guess."
Shane Cartmill of the Ohio State Fire Marshal's Office said he had talked with Ken Crawford, Assistant Chief, Southeastern District Monday evening.
"He said he thought he would have more information in the morning," Cartmill said. "He said, as of right now, it's still under investigation, and he's looking at a couple of different things, but nothing definite yet, so it suffices to say we are still working on it."
Cartmill indicated there should be more information forthcoming this morning.