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Remembering Scottown

Five years have passed since a childish prank led to nine lives being lost in the tragic fire at Ohio River Fireworks in Scottown.

Tuesday, July 03, 2001

Five years have passed since a childish prank led to nine lives being lost in the tragic fire at Ohio River Fireworks in Scottown.

Death did not discriminate that day as the people who died in the fire ranged in age from 3 to 71. Those they left behind can only wonder what could have been if then-24-year-old Todd Hall allegedly had not acted on a dare to throw a lit cigarette on a shelf of fireworks, igniting the building and leaving dozens of people scrambling for their lives.

Some got out of the building unharmed. Others were injured. Nine of them died.

The event turned the once quiet, small community into the center of national attention. Now, when Scottown is mentioned the response is likely to be "Oh, you mean the place where the fireworks store burned up." And as unfair as it may be to the town’s residents, Scottown will always be associated with the disaster.

A year ago, a monument in memory of the nine victims of the tragedy was erected by the Huntington Eagles. In addition to the names of the victims, it is inscribed with the words "Taken from our lives, not from our hearts." These words could not ring truer.

The shell of the burned out building of Ohio River Fireworks remains on State Route 217. Though the weeds have grown high, they cannot conceal the visual reminder of what took place on July 3, 1996.

They say time heals all wounds, but those who lost loved ones in the fire and Scottown residents are likely to disagree with this cliche. Memories of a tragedy of this magnitude never go away. Time may make it easier to cope, but these wounds will never be completely healed.