Greenhouse fire leaves behind eyesore and high-priced fix
COLUMBUS (WSYX/WTTE) —
A mangled mess of metal, debris and trash is still piled high two months after a fire destroyed three buildings at Hoffman’s Florist and Greenhouse in Prairie Township.
“I look at it and I get sick,” neighbor Leslie McCarthy said. “Besides it looking terrible, it’s a safety concern.”
Four generations of the Hoffman family have worked on the 40 acre farm and just this week, they were creating arrangements and delivering flowers for Valentine’s Day. However, their hearts are still broken over the eyesore that was once the other half of their business.
“Your heart sinks,” Jamie Hoffman said. “It’s devastating to see what’s happened here.”
Christmas trees fueled the flames that December night and it’s left behind a scene unable to miss along Hilliard Rome Road.
“Oh my God, you know, it’s a safety issue,” McCarthy said. “And what is all that trash and debris and broken up metal?”
McCarthy called 6 On Your Side upset that nothing appeared to have been done since the fire and despite calling and questioning government agencies the trash and debris still exist.
“I’d like to see it flattened right down and cleaned up,” McCarthy said.
ABC 6 On Your Side asked the owners about the holdup and they explained the Ohio Environmental Protection Agency could be costing them big money. The EPA told ABC 6 that an inspector visited the property to check for asbestos but the building was so badly burned, all of the debris needs to be considered hazardous.
The Hoffman family says the costs to remove the piles of debris is nearly tripled by treating it as hazardous to the tune of nearly $30,000.
“It’s been one of those things, what do you do?” Carol Hoffman asked. “We’ve been here all these years and to start all over…”
There was another fire on the Hoffman farm in 2003. The big barn burned and the family rebuilt, but since then never got insurance. Now, the community is left staring at the destruction.
Despite having a GoFundMe page, the Hoffmans never raised enough money to start over. ABC 6 On Your Side contacted Prairie Township and the administration admits the property is in bad shape but explains no complaints have been received.
Prairie Township plans to send an inspector to either order a removal or initiate the nuisance process.
Meanwhile, the family is left waiting and wondering how they’ll ever be able to afford to fix the piles and looks of a mangled mess.
“That’s how we make our living, is from the farm,” Carol Hoffman said.
The cause of the fire is inconclusive, but investigators don’t believe it was intentional.
A demolition crew tells ABC 6 that it is scheduled to do an assessment of the damage Thursday.
If you or someone you know can help get this family business back up and running contact ABC 6 On Your Side by sending an email to firstname.lastname@example.org