Community answers call during fire at former Salem China Co.

SALEM, Ohio (WYTV) – While dozens of firefighters were busy trying to control the fire at the old Salem China Company, the community was working on a response of their own.

Frank Tompkins with Pizza Hut knew something big was happening Tuesday afternoon. He said he could see the smoke billowing up from the fire and it was obvious something major was going on in town.

When the Winona Fire Department called for a delivery, Tompkins decided to put together a response of his own to help the firefighters.

“We sent out pizzas, plates, napkins, 2-liters, cups, everything we could think of to make them comfortable and help them out,” Tompkins said.

As the smoke was rising, Jalisco’s was preparing for Taco Tuesday, one of its most popular nights. It also answered the call. Efrain Delapas said they sent over 300 tacos and a big pan of rice, enough to feed about 80 people.

It was a community effort around Salem and even fed the firefighters from other departments who came in to help. Jalisco’s knew this was a big moment in Salem and felt it was important to be involved.

“We’ve been in the community for 13 years, we have to give something to our people,” Delapas said.

Food was stacked at the fire department. There was another group of volunteers ready to shuttle it out to the fire scene so the firefighters could stay on the job.

Jeff Olinger with the Salem Fire Department said the crews loved the food and appreciated the help.

“All the guys loved it – a lot of different choices to pick from. It made people’s day that other people were thinking about us while we are doing our work,” Olinger said.

Over a dozen firefighters were on the job through the night and into Wednesday afternoon. All they had to concentrate on was fighting the fire. Everything else was covered.

Salem proved it’s a generous community, Tompkins said.

“It’s one of those things where we want to take care of them because they are out there protecting us. Not just us but the whole community,” Tompkins said.