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Fire ravages 4 plant buildings, house



Published: Sat, June 11, 2005 @ 12:00 a.m.



Several fire departments from two states tanked in water to fight the flames.

HARTFORD -- A neighbor's decision to go back and bang a second time on an elderly woman's door likely saved her life in a major fire at Stanwade Metal Products.

For once, Tim McCarthy -- laid off from midnight shift at a stamping plant -- was glad he couldn't sleep.

He decided overnight to take a drive. As he came home down state Route 305, he noticed smoke coming from behind the two-story house across from his own in rural Hartford Township.

Flames had broken out at the metal storage tank manufacturer, 6868 Route 305, around 3 a.m. Friday, damaging four buildings and the home in front of the business, where the company president's mother, Grace Woofter, 87, lives.

Alerting the neighbor

McCarthy's wife, Charlene, called 911 while he beat on Woofter's door, getting no response. "It kind of scared me because I heard all these booms around back," he said.

He gave up at first, then went back and beat on the door again -- seeing the woman coming around a corner and trying to make a phone call.

"She opened the door for me. I told her, 'Your house is on fire, we gotta get out of here.' All you could see through the window was nothing but orange. She grabbed her shoes and got 'em on."

She was shaken but uninjured as she spoke with neighbors. A cardboard box of framed pictures and her medications rested on the trunk of a Cadillac in the driveway. The top of her house was burned away, windows shattered, the chimney poking out of where the roof had been.

The company owns the house. McCarthy lives across the road at 6869 Route 305.

Timothy K. Woofter, Stanwade president, said he's very grateful to his mother's neighbor.

"She was up. She smelled something that didn't smell right. She's very hard of hearing," Woofter noted.

Assessing the damages

The company president said the damaged area of the plant is used for making 275-gallon basement heating oil tanks. A paint building is right behind the house, and testing and welding are done in an adjacent building.

"We don't know what caused it. The fire marshal is here now," he said.

Power was cut to the Stanwade offices, but its other shops were unaffected. Timothy Woofter said the loss hasn't been tallied, and said that the company had made some of its own machinery in the burned buildings -- making it difficult to replace.

Ben Anspach, Hartford Township fire chief, said he was told Stanwade should be back in business no later than today if power can be restored. He said losses here "will be high."

Stanwade has been making steel tanks and petroleum equipment since 1947. Its facility occupies more than 42,000 square feet of manufacturing space with the capacity to build steel tanks up to 30,000 gallons. It employs more than 40 people, and owns its fleet of semi-tractors and trailers.

Fighting the flames

Water had to be brought in from ponds and lakes by several fire departments to fight the fire.

Hartford Patrolman George Schimpf explained that all of the eastern Trumbull County fire departments, and some from western Pennsylvania, used an established "water shuttle" system.

On the scene at various times were units from Hartford, Fowler, Brookfield, Vienna, Johnston, Burghill/Vernon, Orangeville, the Air Reserve Station in Vienna and South Pymatuning, among others.




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