SUMMIT TOWNSHIP — —
The fourth cottage fire in less than three weeks along the same road has Summit Township Volunteer Fire Department’s chief looking for a connection.
“We do have something going on here — I just don’t know exactly what,” Chief Gig King told the Tribune Tuesday afternoon. “We’re trying to get to the bottom of it.”
The latest in the string of fires along Reed Avenue dating back to May 30 was reported at 5:21 a.m. Tuesday when firefighters were summoned to a small cottage that was already engulfed in flames when they arrived.
By Tuesday afternoon, King and Assistant Chief Pete Albaugh were examining the scene with a Pennsylvania State Police fire marshal.
The string began when firefighters were called to a Reed Avenue property just west of Route 618 near the entrance to Conneaut Lake Park around 2 a.m. on May 30 and again on June 1 around 4 a.m. Each night, a fire gutted one of two wooden structures, each measuring approximately 14 feet by 60 feet, that had once been used as vacation rental cottages and efficiency apartments and were recently being used for storage.
Saturday, firefighters were summoned to 12454 Reed Ave., just inside Conneaut Lake Park, at 3:38 a.m. to battle a blaze in an abandoned home owned by Conneaut Lake Park Trustees. When firefighters arrived, the structure was fully involved and the blaze had spread to a cottage located behind it owned by Laurence Hawk of Akron, Ohio.
Tuesday’s Reed Avenue fire was outside the park in a small cottage King said was approximately 12 feet by 20 feet in size and was occupied occasionally by its Pittsburgh owners.
King noted that all four fires were reported during the early-morning hours, between 2 and 5 a.m.
The first three fires broke out in structures completely without electricity, but the cottage involved in Tuesday’s fire had power, although the main switch on the breaker had been turned off. Unlike the first three structures, Tuesday’s cottage was insured.
“They all looked pretty much the same,” King said Tuesday. “When we get there, they’re fully involved. There’s not much we can do once we get there. We have a fast response, but there’s always a head start.”
King is putting out an urgent plea to members of the community to step forward and help put a stop to this string of fires because firefighters are getting hurt. One fireman went down from the heat while battling Saturday’s blaze, and was treated and released at a local hospital, while a second fireman went down Tuesday with a leg injury that King said was not serious.
Anyone with information about one or more of the recent fires along Reed Avenue in Summit Township is asked to call Pennsylvania State Police at 332-6911; Summit Township Volunteer Fire Department at 382-1300; or Chief Gig King at 795-6739.
Mary Spicer can be reached at 724-6370 or by e-mail at email@example.com