Two firefighters sustained minor injuries in mill explosion, demolition expected to finish Dec. 3

Photo by Renee Ruchotzke

The Kent Fire Department a statement Saturday with more details about the Dec. 2 fire at the Kent mill. The full text of the press release is copied below.

Read our previous reporting here:

The mill in downtown Kent is burning, city in shock and mourning [photos + video]

Watch a video of the moment the Kent mill exploded

Rotting wheat in the mill tower ‘was a fire hazard,’ former employee says

Dec. 3 press release

On December [2], 2022, the City of Kent Fire Department received a call to our dispatch reporting black smoke coming from 162 North Water Street the former Williams Brothers /Star of the West Mill at 0845 AM. Firefighters responded from both of Kent Fire Stations and automatic aid was requested immediately. Within a few minutes firefighters arrived at scene reporting a working fire with heavy smoke coming from the building.

Firefighters immediately entered the building searching for victims and for the location of the fire. Due to inaccessibility of the fire building, firefighters had to enter through a different building that was connected in order to search, and to gain access to the building that was on fire. As these firefighters were operating an explosion occurred blowing out the windows on the front of the building, and a large section of a brick wall from another connected building onto the sidewalk.

Two firefighters sustained minor injuries, as the crew of 4 was able to make their way out of the building. The other firefighters in the street were able to take cover from the falling bricks and debris. The explosion separated the roof from the sidewalls of the building in some areas. The cause of this explosion and the fire are under investigation by the Kent Fire Department, State of Ohio Fire Marshal’s Office and ATF.

Aerial Ladders from Stow, Tallmadge, Ravenna, Rootstown, Cuyahoga Falls, Hudson were set up around the perimeter of the building in order to contain and extinguish the fire. With the amount of water being applied to the fire the City of Kent Water Department had to take action in order to ensure the supply of water was available at the fire scene and for the community. The public was requested to minimize their water usage. All systems with the water department are back to normal and the public may resume normal water usage.

A demolition contractor was brought in to raze the building and to complete extinguishment, this should be completed sometime today. The EPA was contacted to monitor the water runoff from the site. Other fire departments that assisted in the extinguishment efforts were Streetsboro, Brimfield, Ravenna Twp, Munroe Falls, Suffield and the Southern Portage County Water Shuttle Consortium assisted by other Stark County Fire Departments who provided tankers that were standing by in case additional water supply was required. Portage County EMA assisted with logistics along with the Portage County Incident Management Team. Aerial drones were provided by the Stow Fire Department, Metro SWAT Team and the Portage County Sheriff’s Department to monitor fire ground conditions.

The Kent Fire Department would also like to express their appreciation to the American Red Cross and the many businesses, and citizens who donated food, water, and drink to all the firefighters and first responders at the scene.

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