‘My heart sank,’ asst. fire chief says of Leetonia mansion fire

At daybreak Wednesday, crews with the Leetonia Fire Department were still there, checking hot spots at the McKeefrey Farms Mansion

LEETONIA, Ohio (WYTV) – It’s been over 12 hours since firefighters have been working to control a large fire at a century mansion in Leetonia. The state fire marshal will be in town soon to figure out what caused it.

At daybreak Wednesday, crews with the Leetonia Fire Department were still there, putting out rekindles and hot spots at the McKeefrey Farms Mansion on W. Main Street, where a fire tore through the historical structure Tuesday afternoon.  

In all, 28 departments offered aid to Leetonia to put the fire out. A firefighter told First News they called “everyone south of Boardman” to get the flames under control.

The roof and upper floors of the 5.500 square-foot mansion sustained the most damage early on. In fact, the heavy flames and rolling smoke filled the sky in Leetonia as the fire raged through the rafters and attic, and flames filled three windows at the top of the house.

“We got here and we had smoke coming out of the ease and the roof. We tried to make access to the attic, got up there and it was too hot. We had to pull back out,” said Chief Larry Hephner, Jr.

The owner’s 93-year-old mother lived in the house and made it out safely.

The mansion was all but destroyed. The fire snaked through the walls of the house and the side where the library was collapsed completely.

Assistant Fire Chief Jason Hephner, and brother to the chief, first spotted smoke coming from the mansion from the back window of his house. He said he called dispatch and told them they had a working fire.

“My heart sank. We always said there were a couple of things in this town that we hoped would never burn. This was one of them,” Hephner said.

Hephner said it became clear that there was no way firefighters would be able to save the house. He said the whole structure was original construction, dating back to 1908, and the fire swept through the house rapidly with intense flames.