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FAIRLAWN, Ohio - A massive fire at the Cornus Hill Firestone mansion in Fairlawn has been ruled an arson.
A reward of up to $5,000 is being offered for information leading to the arrest and conviction of the person responsible.
It's unclear exactly how much damage was done to the historic 10,000-square-foot, 30-room mansion on Chamberlain Road but Fairlawn Fire Chief Russell Hose said one-third of the structure was destroyed and the rest of it sustained intense smoke and heat damage.
When firefighters responded to the blaze around 9 p.m. on Saturday, they found flames shooting through the roof of the north end of the building. Several departments provided mutual aid.
Snow, ice and getting water to the mansion 1,000 feet up the switchback driveway made the fire extremely challenging. A service truck plowed and salted the driveway to allow firefighters access.
It took several hours to get the fire contained and firefighters returned on Sunday to douse hot spots.
Monica Galang, who lives near the mansion, was considering buying the house and had conversations with a realtor. It was vacant for years and on the market since 2009. Galang said at one time the asking price was $1 million, but it had dropped to half of that.
"I wanted to live there and run my wedding business ouf of it, so when I had heard that it was on fire, I couldn't believe it," Galang said. "It has been my dream house and it's gone."
Lauren Burge with the Akron historical architectural firm Chambers Murphy & Burge said the mansion had a grand, elegant design and could have been eligible for the National Register of Historic Places.
"It's a little eclectic. It's a little asymmetric so it's interesting, charming and modern," Burge said. "It certainly is a piece of Akron history, important Akron history.
In recent years, windows were busted out of the house and juveniles vandalized it with racial epithets.
Galang said if an arsonist burned it down, much more than a mansion was lost.
"You tore down history. You ruined a big part of our lives."