• 54°

IFD not satisfied with apology

Some Ironton Fire fighters and their family members are seeing red.

They’re not happy with statements made last week in defense of former Shake Shoppe owner, Garry Castle, who admitted last week to setting the business on fire March 28.

They responded Monday with letters to the editor and visits to The Ironton Tribune office.

Castle’s attorney, D L McWhorter, said last week that while Castle regrets starting the blaze which gutted his South Second Street eatery, he disagrees with Ironton Fire Chief Tom Runyon’s statement that the arson blaze was particularly dangerous for the fire fighters who battled the blaze.

McWhorter said "fire fighters’ lives would be at risk in any fire" and that the fire was "small" and the building "still standing."

"It wasn’t a small fire," Captain Mike Hasenauer said, who was in charge of the team that responded to the call at the Shake Shoppe. "I watched it escalate before my eyes. I don’t disagree that there’s a risk to this job, but arson fires are more so. Arson fires are a lot more dangerous."

Firefighter Darryle Fogelsong agreed.

"There’s a difference between an accidental structure fire and one that was deliberately set -- one that has had gasoline thrown all over the place, he said "Which one would you rather walk into?"

Firefighter Steve Lewis also fought the Shake Shoppe blaze.

"We were there," Lewis said. "We saw it firsthand."

In a letter to the editor that will be published in The Tribune at a later date, Lewis’ wife, Lori, wrote that

"many buildings are still standing after a fire, even though the blaze was categorized as "dangerous."

"Did someone have to be injured or die for it to be a serious fire?" Lori Lewis wrote.

The International Association of Fire Fighters Local 532 also sent a letter to the editor, outlining department complaints.

The letter noted that the Shake Shoppe fire was set with gasoline.

"… adding gallons of gasoline… exponentially multiplies the danger," the letter read. "A backdraft explosion could have been awaiting a small gust of oxygen."

Meanwhile, Lawrence County Prosecutor J B Collier said that he may decide by the end of the week what avenue to take in handling the Shake Shoppe fire.

"Obviously, we’re looking into it," Collier said.

Collier was out of town last week when Castle submitted his statement in regards to the fire. His staff did brief him on what transpired, and Collier said he is reviewing the information. Teresa Moore/The Ironton Tribune