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Fire damages Harbor home - loss estimated at $60,000

By:  Chris Foreman - Star Beacon

ASHTABULA - City firefighters spent about two hours ventilating a Union Avenue home Sunday afternoon after smoke from a fire contained in the basement filled the entire residence.

Investigators from the Ashtabula Fire Department are still determining the cause of the fire that caused $15,000 in structural damage at 1435 Union Ave. in Ashtabula Harbor at 2:47 p.m., said Fire Capt. Mark Calaway. Another $45,000 in personal property also was damaged, according to an incident report.

Calaway said the home is owned by Frank P. Clayman Jr., who is a trooper with the Saybrook post of the Ohio Highway Patrol. Clayman's father, Frank P. Clayman Sr., is a former Ashtabula city firefighter.

Calaway confirmed reports from neighbors that Clayman Jr. and his family were not home when the fire broke out. Although a final cause has not been identified, Calaway said some officials believe the fire might have been caused by a problem with a transformer or the electrical wiring.

Firefighters who responded to the scene initially had trouble finding the source of the fire because of the lay-out of the basement, Calaway said. Responders used a thermal camera to assist their search, he said. The divisions in the basement also made it hard to drag the hose to the fire, Calaway said.

"It just doesn't glide on its own," he said. "It takes someone to move it along at each corner and we don't have 80 guys to tug on the hose."

Some neighborhood residents mentioned the need for the city to open a second station. In May, about 54 percent of city residents voted against a 0.3 percent income-tax increase to fund the reopening of the Harbor Fire Station on West Ninth Street. City officials still are evaluating what to do with the property.

Calaway said Sunday's response time of five minutes was pretty good for September. "For sure, from the Harbor station, it would have been about a minute and a half response," he said. "It might have been 10 to 12 minutes at wintertime, which could make a huge difference because a fire doubles in size each minute." The Ashtabula Township Fire Department also responded Sunday to the Union Avenue fire.

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