KENT, Ohio — Fire crews from over 30 jurisdictions battled flames and an explosion at a major structure fire Friday at the former Star of the West Mill Complex in Downtown Kent.
The fire has been declared out after crews extinguished hot spots on Saturday afternoon, a source confirmed to News 5. The department is now focusing on the clean-up efforts to reopen roads surrounding the areas.
According to Kent Fire Chief Bill Myers, the call to the fire department came in at 8:45 a.m. When crews arrived they encountered heavy black smoke and flames coming from the old flour mill. About three minutes after arriving, there was an explosion in the building. There were crews in the building at the time of the explosion but no injuries.
What exploded is unknown. Bricks blasted out of the building and came crashing down on a car. Investigators with State Fire Marshal's Office are on site assisting with investigating the cause of the fire.
That explosion compromised the structure of the building, which meant crews could only battle the fire from the outside on Friday morning.
During an 11:30 AM update, he asked residents to conserve water.
A large section of Water Street was shut down to traffic and some nearby buildings were evacuated.
The building, now vacant, dates back to the 1800s and is considered a historic treasure, and some residents say today feels like a gut punch.
In an afternoon briefing with reporters, Myers said that so far, the water supply has been good. However, the Kent Fire Department activated tanker shuttles that will provide additional water supply if needed.
The fire has been difficult to extinguish because train tracks and nearby buildings restrict access to the mill, said Myers.
As to how long it will take to fully put out, Myers said it is hard to say, but the fire could continue to smolder, and efforts may go into Saturday. A demolition company has been called in to assist with dropping material into the building to extinguish the fire.
Video from Kent Wired Friday morning: