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East Liverpool fire blamed on heat from hand tools

April 14, 2012
Salem News

EAST LIVERPOOL -A fire that caused moderate damage to a home in the 300 block of Thompson Avenue Friday was a strange one, according to one veteran firefighter.

The three-story home is owned and occupied by Louis and Michelle Volino, who had been working in an upstairs bedroom, remodeling it as a nursery for their grandchild, according to assistant Chief Jeff Kreefer.

A worker had been using a hand grinder to cut nails off while installing dry wall and it generated so much heat, that the nail actually acted like a conductor, igniting the old wood into which it was embedded, Kreefer said.

"Old wood has a lower ignition temperature," he explained. "It was one of the weirdest things I've seen in my life. The nail was like a branding iron."

Since the nails were concealed in the wall, it wasn't immediately apparent that they were hot until about an hour had lapsed and the worker began smelling a smoke odor and saw that paint on the closet wall was bubbling up.

He ran down and told the Volinos to notify the fire department, which responded at 10:34 a.m. with the four firefighters on duty and Chief Bill Jones. Second and third alarms were called within minutes, bringing four more men and the aerial truck.

For rookie firefighter Jason Glista, this was his first fire, according to Kreefer, who said he had been touring the city with fireman Dave Edgell, familiarizing himself with the area which cut down on response time.

"Ten more minutes and we'd have lost the top of the house. Fortunately, they hadn't left the house unattended," Kreefer said.

Smoke was coming from the attic when firefighters arrived on the scene, and the fire had extended into the unfinished attic, but Kreefer said, "The guys did an outstanding job. They kept the roof on that house. It didn't even have a hole in the roof."

He said firemen dragged hose up three stories to reach the blaze while others used salvage cloths to cover furnishings on the first floor, which he said resulted in minimal damage to the family's belongings.

Fire was contained to the closet wall, attic framing, roof rafters and sheeting, causing moderate damage. The second floor of the historic home sustained moderate water damage, with minor water damage to the first floor.

The home and contents are insured.



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