Covington Fire destroys Escue Datsun - old Hemingray factory site


Publication: The Kentucky Enquirer

Cincinnati, OH, United States

Spectacular Covington Fire Destroys Escue Datsun


A raging fire destroyed Escue Datsun, Second St. and Madison Ave. in Covington, Monday night and caused a serious problem from downed high-voltage wires.

Police said two men were seen running from the scene about the time the fire was reported. An explosion also was heard at the same time.

Covington Patrolman Larry Iseral and an unidentified Kenton County patrolman reported the fire at 9:23 p.m.

BY 9:32 P.M., flames had engulfed the part of the Escue complex nearest the Ohio River. They shot an estimated 40-50 leet into the air and were spectacularly visible from Cincinnati.

The roof, engulfed in flames. had collapsed by 9:40 p.m. An aerial truck sprayed water down onto the blaze. Workers were hampered by downed and live electrical wires. Covington firemen asked for emergency help from Cincinnati Gas & Electric Co. crews.


FLAMES LEAPING from Escue Datsun were easily visible from downtown Cincinnati. Roof collapsed into showroom, left. More photos, Page D-1
FLAMES LEAPING from Escue Datsun were easily visible from downtown Cincinnati. Roof collapsed into showroom, left. More photos, Page D-1


The fire centered in the sprawling building that formerly held Escue Pontlac service facilities. Cars in the showroom caught fire, their exploding gas tanks spreading the blaze.

Police said several witnesses saw two men running from the scene, and a guard at the nearby Internal Revenue Service (IRS) center said he heard an explosion.

THE AUTO firm had provided a guard service for the open or display section for cars on the south side of Second Street. The service was discontinued about a month ago as autos were moved inside.

The sounth side of the Escue complex was not involved in the fire.

The first part of the building, that burned was a one-story section. Flames spread to a two-story section and burned uncontrolled to a central structure of three stories.

I. W. Haynes, a guard at the IRS center, said a passing motorist told John West, another guard, of an explosion at Escue. Haynes then notified the Covington Fire Department. Ludlow and Fort Mitchell deoartments arrived within a short time as extra alarms were sounded.

College students attending a geological society meeting at the nearby Quality Inn -Riverview reported hearing an explosion when the fire started.

DOUGLAS MENY, 21, Westport, Conn., one of them, said the fire seemed to break out uniformly from the entire building.

Richard Heidt, an Escue official, said he was reasonably sure no one was in the building at the time of the fire.

The blaze was the second major fire to strike a Covington business in recent days. Zimmer Hardware, Pike Street, was damaged heavily Saturday night.

Owner Fray Escue, wearing a blue jogging suit, arrived at the scene shortly after 10 p.m. He was in tears as he said that almost the entire used-car stock of the firm, plus new Datsuns, had been destroyed.

Escue said the security guards had been let go several months ago.

The fire scene is adjacent to the site of a hotel-office development planned by Dugan & Meyers, Cincinnati. Officials had planned to meet today with owners of property in a two-block area to discuss the project.

Firemen had gained the upper hand by 10:30 p.m. and appeared to have the blaze under control.

Police had sketchy information on the two men seen running from the scene. A couple stopped by Kentucky Motors, Scott Street, to report seeing the men. A passing motorist gave the same information to IRS guards.

Hal Heideman, salesman with Escue, said his daughter heard of the fire on the radio and called.

"I could not believe it," said Heideman.

Carroll Gregory, a spokesman for the firm, said about 45 new and used cars were in the building, most of them Datsuns. The entire latest shipment was included. Most of Escue's inventory was lost, he said. Gregory had no dollar value of the loss.

Researcher notes:This article is about the fire that destroyed Escue Datsun, formerly the Hemingray Glass Co. factory. The Kentucky Enquirer is an edition of the Cincinnati Enquirer.
Supplemental information:Article: 4526
Researcher:Bob Stahr
Date completed:September 7, 2009 by: Bob Stahr;