Now the structure at 1716 Remelle Road in Peru Township is a pile of rubble and twisted metal.
“We don’t know the origin and we don’t have the cause yet,” said Chief Tom Beck, of the Huron River Joint Fire District, at the scene Monday morning. “Because there is so much damage, we might never know what happened.”
The fire happened Sunday night, but Beck and an investigator with the state fire marshal’s office were at the scene for a couple hours Monday. Beck said due to the heat and damage, authorities are listing the cause of the fire as undetermined.
Nickoli has lost more than two dozen vehicles in the fire that started Sunday. Many of those were classic cars.
“I like old cars. … The vehicles all had been redone,” Nickoli said Monday just before he was interviewed by the state fire marshal’s investigator.
Among the vehicles lost in the fire were: A 1964 GTO convertible, 1968 Camaro Z28, 1973 Camaro Z28, 1973 Triumph TR6, 1955 Chevrolet convertible, 2006 Z06 Corvette, 2000 Corvette, 2008 Sequia sport utility vehicle, 1923 Buick pickup truck, 1973 and ‘74 ZI Kawasaki motorcyles, two Mazda bikes, a Mazda Miata and Harley-Davidson bike. A U.S. Army Mule, Suzuki four-wheeler, Can Am four-wheeler, a jetboat, two jet skis and a motor home were also in the building.
“Every day I was working on something,” Nickoli said. “It makes you mad more than anything.”
Beck estimated there was more than $650,000 worth of damage.
“t’s been a few years since we had something this size and (such) a high-dollar loss,” the chief said.
The 100-by-15 storage building was about 15 years old.
“It’s worth about $150,000 at least,” said Nickoli, the retired owner of Buckeye Excavating & Construction.
Maybe one of the saving graces is that Nickoli is insured through Flickinger Insurance.
“We’ll probably lose about $50,000 and they will cover the rest,” Nickoli said.
On Sunday night, about 45 firefighters from six departments responded to the blaze. Eight tankers were at the scene.
The Huron River Joint Fire District was called at 9:13 p.m. and initially called Norwalk and Fairfield for mutual assistance with tankers.
“We actually had two guys here before we arrived because they live out here. They let us know what we were facing,” Beck said.
As soon the Huron River crew saw the blaze “was fully involved through the roof,” Beck called for more mutual aid from Milan Township, Townsend Township and Willard.
“It was fully envolved and through the roof. The roof already was caving in before we got there. It was a defensive attack the entire night,” the chief said. “We had a lot of little explosions early from some tanks releasing and tires.”
Pumper trucks took turns filling up at nearby fire hydrants and unloaded the water into pools set up at the blaze. Trucks went as far as the entrance to Sycamore Hills in Norwalk to get water.
North Central EMS was at the scene. The Huron County Sheriff’s Office provided crowd and traffic control.
The fire was under control about midnight.
“We were there another hour-and-a-half with hot spots,” Beck said.
Nickoli received a call from Linda Morrow, who lives next door to the storage building, about 9:30 p.m. Sunday. He said Morrow saw smoke and was hearing many noises and a neighbor had called 9-1-1 before Morrow called him.
About 10:45 a.m. Monday, Huron River firefighters returned to the scene. The crew searched for hot spots and surveyed the wreckage.
“We’d like to put out a big thank-you to the neighboring fire departments,” Beck said.
EDITOR’S NOTE: Managing editor Joe Centers contributed to this story.