Cause of fire sought
150-year-old home destroyed

Wednesday, December 16, 1998

The Cincinnati Enquirer

ANDERSON TOWNSHIP -- The investigation continues into a fire that destroyed a 150-year-old home here overnight Monday.

Firefighters from Anderson Township, Union Township and Cincinnati battled the blaze at 7733 Ayers Road for 12 hours before bringing it under control. Damage was estimated at $250,000.

Anderson Township assistant fire chief Mark Ober said the couple who lived there, James and Florence VanHook, got out of the home safely and were in the driveway when he arrived about 9 p.m. Monday. The house is owned by William J. Williams, chairman of Western-Southern Life Insurance Co. and a former owner of the Cincinnati Reds.

"The fire was coming from the rooftop when I arrived," assistant chief Ober said. "We had to run several lines along the road in a wooded area to connect with fire hydrants."

Mr. Ober said firefighters tried to get inside the home to fight the blaze, but were unsuccessful because of the lack of water.

One firefighter, Donald Ober -- Mark Ober's brother -- received an electrical shock from a fire hydrant while connecting a hose. Other firefighters injured were Bob

Herrlinger, who suffered burns and cuts to the face, and Mark Owens, who suffered an ankle injury. All were treated at Mercy Hospital Anderson and released.

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