NEGLEY - On Monday, Arthur "Lee" Grossen started his day like any other. He made breakfast in the kitchen of his Bye Road home and then went over to his garage to install a new light on his tractor.
As he was working the lights flickered and then went out. He said he looked toward the two-story home he has owned since 1974 and saw fire and smoke near the brick chimney at the rear of the home.
He ran to the front door and opened it to a room full of smoke. Quickly, he grabbed some items and put them in a box and took them outside. He couldn't get to the rest of the house, and
couldn't call the fire department since the electric was out and he didn't have a cell phone, he said.
He quickly jumped into his car and drove next door to ask a neighbor to call the fire department. When he came back the house was completely ablaze.
"It went up quick," he said.
Grossen was alone on the property that sits back more than 100 feet from Bye Road when the fire started. He was later flanked by family members and fire and EMS officials as they surveyed the damage to the wood-frame home.
The Negley, East Palestine and New Waterford fire departments responded shortly after the neighbor called just before 9:30 a.m.
Negley Chief Jerry Hoon said the departments have a mutual aid agreement that all three respond to calls during daylight hours only. The call brought nine tanker trucks and about 22 men from the three departments.
He said it is unclear what started the fire, although it appears to be electrical in nature.
"I'm sure it's electrical, I just don't know for sure what caused it," he said, adding that it remains under investigation.
The fire originated in the far southwest corner of the home in the ground floor bedroom near the electric meter box, he said.
The trucks used a nearby dry fire hydrant and had the blaze under control about an hour after it was reported. The home at 6748 Bye Road was insured, he added.
Grossen said he will likely stay with relatives until other arrangements are made. Although he purchased the home 38 years ago, he has lived on the property since 1958. At that time, through the arrangement between himself and the owner, he lived on a mobile home directly off from the home.
He estimated the home to be more than 100 years old. The mobile home no longer exists there and the detached garage was not touched by the fire.