June 27, 2016

Mostly sunny

History lost: Fire damages Hinckley home

By MARIA KACIK | Staff Writer

HINCKLEY TWP. — A lot of history went up in smoke Tuesday morning when a fire consumed what has been home to the Hanacek family for four generations and has housed the family’s barn salvaging business in recent decades.

“It’s terrible. I’ve been here for quite a few years,” said Fred Hanacek of Century Timber as he watched his home at 2451 W. 130th St. go up in flames. “And I’ve got a lot of stuff in there.”

Hanacek said his great-grandparents bought the home in 1900. An addition to the rear of the house, built in 2001, was made with wood salvaged from a barn and stained-glass windows taken from an old church. Inside the home were old coin collections, an arrowhead collection and numerous antiques — including an 18th-century couch.

As flames began to subside toward noon, firefighters pulled some of the charred items out of the home and set them down, smoking in the snow.

“It’s going to be a big pile out there,” Hanacek said just before he sighed and bent down to pick up an antique wooden tray that was damaged in the fire.

Homeowner Fred Hanacek watches Tuesday as firefighters from Hinckley, Brunswick Hills, Granger and Bath townships battle a fire at 2451 W. 130th St. in Hinckley. The fire originated with a faulty electrical outlet, said Hinckley Fire Chief Bill Horton. No one was injured in the blaze, but Hanacek, whose family has lived in the home since 1900, lost many items in the fire. (Andrew Dolph | Staff Photographer)

The Hinckley Fire Department reported the fire began at 10:23 a.m. That department responded, along with firefighters from Brunswick Hills, Granger and Bath townships, and Hinckley police.

Hinckley Fire Chief Bill Horton said the fire started due to a faulty electrical outlet in the addition in the rear of the house. He said the fire quickly spread to the upstairs.

“New houses all have fire-stopping in the walls. The front part of this house is 150 years old, maybe older. When they used to build those farm houses, they didn’t have fire stops in the walls. So the fire can start in a lower area, and go up to a higher part, into the attic,” he said.

The fire was under control by 11:30 a.m., Horton said, but crews still were extinguishing the last flames a couple hours into the afternoon.

Horton said there was no damage estimate, but the fire damaged most of the addition and the upstairs. The front, lower portion of the house was not hit by the fire, he said, but it did receive extensive smoke and water damage.

When the fire was at its height, drivers on West 130th Street could see smoke billowing into the sky from more than a mile away.

“What a mess,” Bill Williams, an 18-year employee of Century Timber, said as he shook his head. “It don’t take long to lose everything.”

Williams said he and Hanacek left the home early Tuesday to pick up some supplies and when they returned around 9:45 a.m. the house appeared to be fine. Shortly thereafter, while he was outside, Williams said he began to see smoke billowing from the roof.

“It happened real quick. Real quick. I walked out the back door. I looked and seen it running out of the chimney,” he said. He screamed for Hanacek and the two began to fill buckets of water to throw on the fire as they called 911, he said.

“I was right in the middle of it. I couldn’t see or breathe any more. We were trying to throw buckets on it. I was talking to 911 on the cell phone and we were running into each other,” he said.

Once the fire grew, the two said they had to stop fighting the blaze and leave the home.

“We pretty much stood out there and waited for the sirens to start to blare,” Hanacek said.

While he watched the fire, Hanacek stood outside on his property among some of the structures his business has salvaged — including a couple of historic barns and an old schoolhouse they had moved and restored.

Hanacek said he will stay with friends or family while repairs are made to the home. “I would like to try to save the main part of the house,” he said.

And he said he plans to keep work with Century Timber going as normal.

“I gotta do what I gotta do,” he said.

Kacik may be reached at 330-721-4049 or mkacik@ohio.net.