Fire at the Requarth Lumber Company

When fire ignited the Requarth Lumber Company building at 2 am, only two firefighters responded to the call. Not long after, there wear 77 firefighters and 18 pieces of equipment to battle the blaze. Sightings of the fire were reported to be seen as far away as Preble and Darke Counties, 10 miles away.

Requarth incurred $650,000 in damages, but firefighters were able to save most of the main building. The storage sheds were almost completely destroyed. At first, faulty equipment was blamed for the blaze but soon after, it was discovered that arson was the cause. Samuel Edward Ross, who was a patient from the Dayton Mental Health Center, started the fire in the storage yard at the west corner.

Later that day, police found him wandering the streets. When they talked to him, he requested to be returned to the center, and police obliged. Later that day, an anonymous tipster called the police and informed them that Ross was to blame for the Requarth fire, and they returned to the center to pick him up. They discovered that Ross was admitted to the center just a week before, on May 16. Ross had been admitted because he set fire to the Lee Hotel on Ludlow Street, which caused an estimated $6,200 in damages. After one week at the center, he simply walked away, straight to the Requarth storage yard and started the fire.
Before the trial, Ross was sent to the Lima State Hospital for evaluation and he was found to be unfit to stand trial. He was sent back to the hospital after the trial.

The damaged incurred by the fire was fully covered by insurance. Recovery efforts started that same day and operations resumed by the next day. Damaged storage buildings were bulldozed and a salvage crew hauled away the remains of the damages in the aftermath. There were no layoffs within the company, orders were fulfilled using lumber from their Lumber Marts, and only one day of operations was lost. Within days, the firm took out an ad in the Dayton Daily News thanking Firefighters for their hard work and declaring, “REQUARTH IS BACK!”

The recovery effort went so well that Requarth was not able to receive payments from their insurance policy because the insurance company did not believe the damages. Shortly following the fire, all the evidence remaining was a smoky smell in the offices, which was remedied by tins of Listerine strategically placed throughout the offices and hallways.

Although the company lost a lot during the fire, sales cleared $3.5 million in 1972.

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