Painesville City Fire Department, Major Incidents

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On November 10th 1996 northeast Ohio was hit with a blizzard that dumped over three feet of snow in less than 24 hours on the area.  Travel was nearly impossible and in fact there were areas of the City that were impossible to reach for nearly 12 hours.  Streets were impassable due to the heavy snow fall and low hanging and downed electrical wires.


The Painesville City Fire Department, like most other departments in northeast Ohio, was over whelmed with runs that day.  The department responded to over one hundred runs by 3:00 p.m.  Most calls were for wires down and activated fire alarms but many were in response to medical emergencies.



The Black out of 2003 was reportedly the result of branches shorting out a transmission line somewhere in northeast Ohio.  This seemingly minuscule event resulted in a power outage effecting the entire northeast United States.


While this event is counted as a major event it had very little impact on the Painesville City Fire Department other than to drive home the need for greater disaster preparedness and training.


FLOOD of 2006

On July 27th and 28th of 2006 northeast Ohio was hit with torrential rain falls.  Flooding was common across northeast Ohio.  Lake County was hit hard and the City of Painesville the Hardest.


Initially the rains caused flooding of underpasses and along streets where the storm sewers were unable to handle the sudden and heavy rains.  As the rains continued into the evening and night time hours of July 27th the City experienced flooding unprecedented in areas that had never flooded in the past.  Water levels in residential streets far from the Grand River reached three (3) feet or more.  Basements were flooding and conditions worsened throughout the night.  By 1:00 a.m. it was evident that the flooding had reached disastrous levels. 


By 3:00 a.m. on July 28th the Grand River had spilled over its banks and was rising fast.  The river peaked that morning, at around 10:00 a.m., at nearly eighteen (18) feet (flood stage is eight (8) feet) a record level for the Grand River in Painesville.


Over three hundred (300) residents were evacuated from their homes in Painesville.  While many of the residents were back in their homes within a week cleaning up, many were never able to return.  Two (2) condominium developments were totally destroyed and determined to be beyond repair.  The cost of this disaster, to residents and the City, was well over ten million dollars ($10,000,000).


Fire departments from across northeast Ohio responded to this emergency and worked throughout Lake County.  This was in no way however just a fire department emergency as all City departments were called on that night and throughout the emergency.  Even the Coast Guard assisted in the rescue by sending a rescue helicopter to the flood zone along the Grand River.


It is a tribute to all that participated in the evacuation and rescue efforts that not one life was lost or serious injury sustained.



The CSX derailment of 2007 occurred at approximately noon on October 10th of 2007.  Thirty-two (32) cars of a one hundred twelve (112) car east bound CSX train derailed.  The area in which the derailment occurred was in a remote area approximately ¼ mile east of a new housing development and ¼ mile west of an industrial plant and a major highway.  The area is part of a watershed that feeds a fragile nationally protected area, the Mentor Marsh.


While most of the cars were non-hazardous and of minor concern nine (9) of the cars presented major concerns.  Six (6) of the cars were Ethanol tankers, one (1) was a tanker of Phthalic Anhydride, one (1) tanker contained Bio-diesel fuel and one (1) was and LPG car (butane).  Of the nine (9) cars of concern three (3) ethanol tankers, the Phthalic Anhydride tanker and the Bio-fuel were actively burning upon arrival.  The LPG car had direct flame impingement and another ethanol tanker was leaking through an open valve.


Residents and businesses within a half mile of the event were evacuated and two (2) major highways were closed.  Many residents were not able to return to their homes until the event’s culmination on Saturday.


In all over fifty fire departments, five law enforcement agencies, including the FBI, the local Emergency Management Agency, the local health department, the EPA (State and Federal), the NTSB, The FRA and the State PUCO responded as well as CSX and their private contractors.  The event lasted over seventy-two (72) hours, concluding late on Saturday October 13th.  The cost to local communities amounted to nearly a half million dollars all of which was reimbursed by CSX.


Thanks to all those involved the emergency was handled without a single injury and without the Mentor Marsh sustaining any damage.  Trains were operating, albeit at a cautious speed, by Saturday evening.