Stubborn Ohio Fire Keeps Firefighters Scrambling

GRATIS, Ohio --

Dozens of firefighters responded to calls for help from the Preble County village of Gratis after flames erupted and tore through a large, two-story home.

The fire happened around 1:30 a.m. in the 200 block of East Franklin Street.

People living next door said you could tell there was trouble right away. John Stewart said "I went to sleep on the couch and my mom woke me up and says the house next door is on fire, when I came out I saw those two doors completely full of flames and moving halfway up the house".

Village of Gratis firefighters said flames were shooting from the structure when they arrived at the scene. They said the flames were concentrated towards the back of the vacant house.

Gratis firefighters called in help from Farmersville, West Alexandria and West Elkton to help them bring the flames under control.

One large challenge facing firefighters was the fact a number of large trees surround the home, making it impossible to use ladder trucks to spray water down from above and there were other water concerns as well.

Gratis does have fire hydrants near the house but the demand for water was so high that firefighters had to use tanker trucks to haul more water in to avoid low water pressure in the village.

The house is heavily damaged and firefighters planned to return to the home Friday morning to pin down a cause. If it's not immediately obvious what sparked the flames they expect to call in help from the State Fire Marshal's office to further the investigation.

Firefighters have some suspicions that the fire may have been intentionally set, they said the home's power was turned off since no one was living there.

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