Fire Destroys Fertilizer Facility

Tuesday, January 17, 2017 @ 06:01 PM gHale

A family-owned fertilizer company in East Rochester, OH, may need to start over after a fire destroyed the 50,000-square-foot facility Monday.

The district received multiple calls from people driving past Hoopes Fertilizer Works seeing the smoke and flames, said Aaron Stoller, chief of the Sandy Creek Joint Fire District.

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The fire started around 45 minutes after employees left for the day, he added.

Stoller said the building was already fully involved before firefighters arrived, and the district called for backup from 10 other departments from Columbiana, Stark and Carroll counties.

There were no injuries in the incident and no one was inside the building when firefighters arrived, Stoller said.

In fact, firefighters had to maintain a fully exterior defensive effort to extinguish the fire since the building was locked.

Stoller said firefighters were able to force entry into one area of the building at one point, but still could not get inside due to the extent of the fire.

“We did have two minor explosions … we pretty much have been fighting the fire from the outside,” Stoller said around 9 p.m., while firefighting efforts were ongoing.

Firefighters were able to get the fire under control around 8 p.m., but were still working to get it fully extinguished that night.

“The building is going to be a total loss,” Stoller said.

The majority of the building was used for rock salt storage and about 40 bags of fertilizer, Stoller added.

According to previous reports from the Farm and Dairy, the company was founded in 1962 by the late Eugene Hoopes and is owned by his sons. The East Rochester facility was constructed in 1980.

Stoller said the fire posed no threat to neighboring properties, although the Norfolk and Southern Railroad halted operations for a few hours since the railroad runs directly behind the facility.

Luckily, the railroad learned of the fire before its next train — which was carrying crude oil — passed through, Stoller said.

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