SANDUSKY- The state fire marshal's office is continuing to investigate Thursday morning's fire at Corso's Flower & Garden Shop in Perkins Township. No one was injured in the blaze that caused between $400,000 and $500,000 worth of damage.
Perkins Township Assistant Fire Chief Bill Hodges confirmed the initial damage report was about $1 million, but the figure changed as the investigation proceeded. "It could go up and down as time goes by," he added.
An East Perkins Avenue farmer reported the fire at 5:55 a.m. Between 40 to 45 total firefighters eventually responded and had the blaze under control in about an hour. Firefighters started taking care of hot spots about 7 a.m.
"State fire marshal investigators arrived late Thursday morning after a request for assistance in the investigation," spokesman Shane Cartmill said via e-mail. "The Division of State Fire Marshal (had) three investigators at the scene or en route."
The investigators took witness statements while the building was being "rendered safe."
"In other words, crews (made) certain it (was) okay for investigators and firefighters to enter to begin the origin and cause phase of the investigation," Cartmill wrote.
No cause has been determined.
"It usually takes 10 days to two weeks to get something back to us," Hodges said.
Firefighter Dan Yost, the scene commander, said the fire started in a potting building and spread to a soil building and greenhouse on either side.
"Nothing is suspected, but everything is under investigation at this point," Yost said late Thursday morning.
The potting building had burned to the ground late Thursday morning. The soil building was gutted and sustained significant visible damage.
Corso's uses the potting building to store plants that are about to be shipped or sold.
"Half to two-thirds of the machinery they store there (overnight) they couldn't get out," Hodges said.
A Corso's maintenance worker used a small front loader to begin hauling away and sorting through fire-related damage near the buildings Thursday.
Eight Perkins Township firefighters responded to the blaze within two minutes of being dispatched. Other first responders were from Margaretta Township, Sandusky and Huron.
Hodges, who lives in Huron, could see the smoke from his home. When Perkins firefighters arrived at Corso's, all they could see was a black cloud, the assistant chief added.
"It was engulfing the flames," Hodges continued. "People from as far as Bay View said they could see it as well."