Photo: Krista Peterson, Staff Photographer

Nelson Twp. – Black smoke rose up in plumes high above Garrettsville as a raging fire burned… again.

Just about a week after a block of historic Main Street went up in flames, a large storage unit leased by Hermann Pickle Farm burnt to the ground on April 2 along Norton Road in neighboring Nelson Township.

Photo: Krista Peterson, Staff Photographer
Photo: Krista Peterson, Staff Photographer

Located on property just west of State Route 88 formerly owned by the Bil-Mar Turkey Farm, the barn was among 600 feet of storage buildings now owned by John and Christine Sedensky of J& C Properties. The barn contained food production equipment, generators, towmotors, jars, lids, shipping boxes and plastics used for production and nationwide distribution of Hermann’s and Nathan’s Famous Pickles brands.

More than a dozen fire departments — including Mantua-Shalersville, Hiram, Streetsboro, Aurora and Ravenna City — responded to control the fire, providing mutual assistance to the Garrettsville-Freedom-Nelson Joint Fire District. The value of the loss caused by the evening blaze is estimated to be $600,000-$700,000, according to Garrettsville Fire Chief David Friess.

Specialists in refrigerated kosher dill pickles and other pickle varieties, Hermann Pickle Farm has operated as a family business since 1938, at 11964 State Route 88 in Garrettsville. National Sales Manager Karl Hermann said that the business has never before sustained a comparable fire or loss. No one was injured by the fire, and while the loss is significant and unfortunate, it is not affecting production capabilities for the pickle company, he said.

Fire Chief Friess says the Portage County Fire Investigation Unit is expected to announce their determination of the cause of the fire later this week. When questioned if arson was suspected, Freiss said, “I don’t think the fire is suspicious as far as arson goes.”

However, Freiss did offer this advice as a public service: “It’s coming up on grass fire season. People are starting to burn trash, brush and leaves. Just refrain from burning outdoors on windy days, especially  before the grass greens up.”


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Estelle R. Brown is a freelance writer who lives in Garrettsville with her family. She has written and taken photos for newspapers, magazines and e-zines for the past 25 years. She also enjoys working on public relations projects, including web content, newsletters, posters, brochures, press releases, and other creative endeavors. She enjoys writing compelling stories about her community as a contributing reporter for the Villager.