Arson suspected as fire departments battle blaze at former National Standard building

NILES – Around 9 a.m. Wednesday, four and a half hours after the call came in to the fire department, smoke continued to blanket the neighborhood surrounding the former National Standard, also known as the “Heico building,” between Howard and Wayne streets in the city of Niles.

According to Public Safety Director Jim Millin, a fire was reported at 3:30 a.m. at the southwest corner of the building, where the building’s offices were formerly located.

Millin said fire departments will most likely stay at the scene all day.

“Because of the type of structure and where the fire was able to get to, [fire fighters] are having trouble getting to the fire,” Millin said. “We’re not sending anyone into this thing, so we’re fighting it from the outside.”

Throughout the day, firefighters will be on the lookout for “hot spots,” which could reignite the fire.

The fire was mainly contained to the southwest side of the structure.

“There’s not much to burn on the other side. It’s all steel and concrete,” Millin said.

Officials said they believed the fire will be investigated as an arson, as no power runs to the building, and there was no lightning overnight.

No injuries have been reported. Officials expect the area to remain smoky for much of the day.

On Facebook, Niles Mayor Nick Shelton posted about the fire throughout the morning.

“There is no question this is a problem building. The city met with parent company, Heico, in April. Over the next several weeks, a cost profile and timeline will be established for the removal and remediation of this site. Long overdue,” Shelton’s post said.

In a separate post, Shelton said he had walked the scene with Niles Fire Captain Don Wise.

“City crews have done a tremendous job battling the blaze and protecting the area,” Shelton said.

In March, the Niles City Council voted to have Advanced Redevelopment Solutions review the site in a consultation for the city complex solar project.

Assisting on the scene was the Niles Fire Department, Niles Charter Township Fire Department, Howard Township Fire Department, Bertrand Township Fire Department and Clay Township Fire Department.

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