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Tuesday, January 19th, 2010

Celina fire suspicious

Quick response minimizes damage

By Margie Wuebker

Celina firefighters check the exterior of the former Grand Slam USA Family Fun C. . .

Celina police continue to investigate a suspicious fire on Monday that caused light damage to a vacant building that once housed Celina Roller Rink and later Grand Slam USA Family Fun Center.
Someone at the nearby Eastown Shell station spotted light smoke and an orange glow coming from the 911 E. Wayne St. building about 5 p.m. The Celina Fire Department was dispatched one minute later.
Off-duty firefighter Chad Willrath was pumping gas into his vehicle at the time of the sighting and responded on foot. Another off-duty firefighter also was in the area and responded.
The firefighters surveyed the scene and quickly located four small fires inside, according to Lt. Jon Schumm. Several blazes had been set on the skating floor, while another was burning near a partition separating the rink from a seating area. The fourth "incendiary" fire at the west end of the structure burned into the wall, but flames never accessed the attic.
Police Chief Dave Slusser told The Daily Standard it appears culprits gained entry to the building through a window at the northeast corner. Officers responded to the scene last week on reports of youths playing in the building.
Schumm said the blazes were extinguished within 10 to 15 minutes. However, "overhaul" work continued for some time, as firefighters pulled off wall and ceiling material to make sure there were no hot spots.
Erwin and Charlotte Beyer formerly operated Celina Roller Rink at that location from 1950 to 1993. In later years, the site was home to the Grand Slam facility.
The building has remained vacant for sometime and reportedly underwent bank foreclosure. City of Celina utility records indicate electrical service was disconnected Nov. 24, 2008.
John Mottl, a representative of Caldwell Banker Realty Plus of Marion, confirmed the property is for sale in the wake of foreclosure. He also indicated police and firefighters have been called to the location several times in the past.
A section of East Wayne Street was closed temporarily as firefighters laid down 5-inch hose. Mercer County Emergency Response Volunteers were called to provide traffic control services. Two trucks were used and 11 firefighters responded to the call.
Anyone with information about the fire or suspicious activity in the area should call the police department at 419-586-2345.
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