Explosion shreds local warehouse

Tyrel Linkhorn

Griswold Manufacturing Inc. in Ravenna exploded yesterday around 6:30 a.m. The cause of the explosion was not determined and is under investigation. There were no injuries. KATIE ROUPE | DAILY KENT STATER

Credit: DKS Editors

Normally, workers would have been at the Griswold Manufacturing Inc. warehouse shortly before 7 a.m., but they weren’t yesterday. The holiday may have saved them.

About 6:50 a.m., calls began coming in to the Ravenna Fire Department about an explosion that tore apart the steel storage building, located at 7200 state Route 88, in Ravenna. It scattered fragments of broken glass, twisted steel and charred yellow insulation around the parking lot and surrounding lawn.

Some pieces even made it over pine trees and Peck Road to the Maplewood Christian Church’s athletic field more than 100 yards away.

Bob Walker, a Ravenna Fire Department spokesman, said officials from both Ravenna and the State Fire Marshall’s office are investigating the explosion’s cause. No injuries were reported.

Cheryl Ward was staying with her boyfriend Raymond Boone at his home across from the Griswold building, when the explosion occurred.

“There was a loud, loud, loud boom, and the house shook,” she said. She and Boone both sat up in bed, awakened by the blast. They heard Boone’s son yell “Dad, call 911,” she said.

By the time Boone was on the phone, the sirens were already arriving.

They saw flames “shooting everywhere” and thick black smoke.

“It was just devastating,” Ward said. “It was unbelievable.”

Walker said units from Ravenna City, Ravenna Township, Kent, Rootstown and Mantua fire departments responded.

The Sirna & Sons Produce building, located next door to the warehouse sustained some cosmetic damage from the concussion of the blast, including three broken windows on the side facing the warehouse and displaced ceiling tiles throughout the building.

Debbie Michalski, an administrative assistant with Sirna & Sons, said they were lucky it happened on a holiday.

“Normally we have people here 24-seven,” she said.

There didn’t appear to be any structural damage, she said.

Don Thompson of 7735 state Route 88, about a mile from the site, said the boom shook his two story farmhouse.

He said he could smell burning plastic about an hour after the boom.

The fire marshall’s office was unable to be reached for comment due to the holiday.

Griswold Manufacturing is a punch press process manufacturer. They have another Ravenna location, at 799 N. Freedom St. Walker said all 117 of their employees were off for Labor Day.

Griswold Manufacturing declined comment.

Contact public affairs reporter Tyrel Linkhorn at [email protected].