Charred debris from Rocky River fire falls across I-90

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ROCKY RIVER, Ohio (WJW)-- The Ohio Division of State Fire Marshal stepped in to help determine what caused a massive fire that destroyed a luxury condominium complex under construction in Rocky River. 

The flames also threatened homes on the other side of Interstate 90.

"When that fire hit, it just came right over… It just was raining fire," Tim Niklas said.

Through an upstairs window, Niklas' wife took video as he doused their home with water Sunday evening.

"Pieces, chunks and insulation here, just were on fire and all I could do was just keep the front of the house wet. So I was just sitting there with a garden hose," Niklas said.

He jumped into action as ominous smoke and flames poured from a massive fire at the complex on Hilliard Boulevard.

"I kept thinking is everybody OK, please let everybody be OK and I kept praying that over and over," said neighbor Kathy Aloi.

No one was hurt, although the fire displaced several residents in an apartment building right next to the burning complex.

Residents north of the interstate on Winfield Avenue and Valley View Drive realized that wind-blown burning debris was a growing threat to their homes too.

"That we could have debris, coming across the highway and landing on our house, and then having my neighbor four doors down, their shrubs caught on fire," Niklas said.

"I was finding large pieces of insulation in the backyard, like 18 inches in diameter, that were floating around. And I see a lot of burn marks on my lawn. I mean, those ashes were hot and they were on fire and they stayed on fire," John Jaracz said.

Residents spent Monday cleaning up yards and filling up large trash bags with charred debris.

"You can't pick it up, you'd go to grab it. It just crumbles. My gutters are jammed, I mean, I gotta vacuum all those out," Jaracz said.

Holes are burned into plastic tarps while burned insulation and other building material cover the neighborhood for several blocks. But people who live across the highway from the fire are thankful the damage near them was not worse.

"My wife had something land in her hair and her hair was smoldering, and thankfully the neighbors told her, 'Hey, your hair is smoldering,” Jaracz said.

Continuing coverage of this story here

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