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Home » Seneca County » 10 YEARS LATER: Looking back at massive Ovid fire that changed downtown

10 YEARS LATER: Looking back at massive Ovid fire that changed downtown

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  • Staff Report 

Ten years have passed since a massive fire swept through downtown Ovid, destroying three mixed-use buildings and displacing several residents. The blaze, which occurred on March 18, 2014, resulted in over $750,000 in damages but, remarkably, no civilian injuries were reported.

The Ovid Fire Department, under the leadership of Chief William J. Palmer Sr., was first to respond to the scene at the New Dragon Chinese Restaurant on South Main St. With 59 volunteer firefighters at their disposal, the department faced a daunting task.

An extensive mutual aid system was activated, bringing in more than 250 firefighters from eight counties to assist. The combined forces tackled the fire with a fleet that included one pumper, one aerial, and one pumper/tanker from Ovid, along with numerous apparatus from neighboring departments.

The firefighting effort was challenged by the town’s aged municipal water system, which struggled to supply the necessary volume of water. This issue necessitated an extensive tanker shuttle operation, successfully preventing a water shortage at the scene.

Despite the fire’s intensity and the rapid spread facilitated by a boiling liquid expanding vapor explosion (BLEVE) before the fire department’s arrival, the firefighters’ strategy of cooling adjacent liquefied petroleum gas tanks and launching an aggressive attack on the fire from multiple angles helped contain the blaze.

The fire was officially declared under control by Palmer at 9:45 P.M., thanks to the relentless effort of the responders and the strategic use of four aerial master streams and numerous handlines. Mutual aid units began to be released shortly after, with Ovid’s last units leaving the scene in the early hours of March 19.

The damage was estimated at $500,000 to the buildings and $200,000 to their contents.

The incident underscored several lessons, notably the importance of effective communication across different radio frequencies and the critical need for knowledge of local water systems. The successful tanker shuttle operations highlighted the value of preparation and training, which Chief Palmer credited with saving the village at the time.