FIRES HIT THREE NEWSPAPERS THIS WEEK

By: Mark Fitzgerald

Publications In Minnesota, Ohio Affected


Fire is taking a toll on the newspaper industry this week –
halting a press run at the Duluth (Minn.) News-
Tribune early Sunday morning, destroying the offices of a
historic weekly in the southern Ohio town of Georgetown early
Monday, and burning up preprinted ad inserts and newsprint rolls
in the warehouse of a western Ohio daily.

The worst damage by far was suffered by the Georgetown News-
Democrat, a 5,500-circulation weekly owned by Brown
Publishing Co. Located in a historic downtown section of 19th
century buildings, the paper’s offices were destroyed in a fire
that consumed nearly the entire block.

Brown Publishing Vice President Joel Dempsey said Wednesday that
the Feb. 1 paper would be published using the facilities of other
papers in the chain. “Obviously, we’re scrambling to continue the
paper using newspapers nearby, but we don’t think there will be
any production problems,” Dempsey said.

The fire routed four families living in apartments above
businesses in the devastated area, but there were no reported
injuries. Officials Wednesday had not yet determined the cause of
the fire, which at one point occupied 100 firefighters from two
counties.

Some 30 firefighters were called Tuesday night to a fire at a
warehouse owned by the St. Marys (Ohio) Evening
Leader. While flames engulfed all three floors of the
warehouse at the fire’s peak, Publisher Philip Jackson said
Wednesday the damage did not look so bad in the light of day. The
6,000-circulation newspaper lost some newsprint and about a
month’s worth of preprints.

“It’s not nearly as bad as it could have been,” Jackson said. “We
lost some newsprint rolls, obviously, but I think we’ll be able
to salvage quite a few. We’ve made arrangements with advertisers
for the [inserts lost] … and structurally, the building is
sound.”

No cause of the fire had been determined, but Jackson said
authorities did not suspect foul play.

Smoke from a fire that apparently started in an exhaust air duct
from the pressroom forced evacuation of the Duluth News
Tribune for a short time early Sunday morning. Operations
Director Jerome Ferson said the blaze disrupted publication of
the 77,000-circulation Sunday paper, but caused no damage to the
presses or any other production equipment.



Mark Fitzgerald (mfitzgerald@editorandpublisher.com) is editor at large for E&P.



Copyright 2001, Editor & Publisher.

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