This story has been updated to identify the property damaged. Incorrect information appeared in an earlier version.
SPRINGBORO — Sunday afternoon’s fire at one of the buildings of a former dairy plant in Springboro may have been an arson by three adolescent boys, according to Pennsylvania State Police at Meadville.
The fire at Shidemantle Storage on Lake Street in the borough was discovered around 12:15 p.m. and required a half-dozen volunteer fire departments from western Crawford County to fight it. The three boys were located by state police and their parents notified of the investigation.
“No charges yet. (The) investigation is still ongoing,” Crawford County District Attorney Francis Schultz confirmed Sunday night to the Tribune via text.
Witnesses saw three boys — ages 11, 11 and 10 and all from Springboro — go into one of the buildings before it was on fire, according a report from Trooper Stephen Peters. One witness went into the building to see what the children were doing, but smelled smoke upon entering and also saw the three boys run out, the report said. The witness then noticed a small fire on the floor plus multiple hay bales inside on fire.
“The neighbor came running over said he saw three kids running out,” said Don Cady, a fireman with Springboro Volunteer Fire Department, who lives next door to the storage facility. “I looked over and saw smoke rolling out of the building.”
Springboro was the lead department on the call, but quickly called for mutual aid from Conneautville, Summit Township, Linesville, Hayfield Township and Vernon Central volunteer fire departments. The Crawford County Scuba Team also was called to provide its air trailer to aid firefighters who had to battle the blaze under sunny skies and temperatures in the mid-80s.
The fire was contained to a large building on the southern end of the property that only contained large round bales of hay, according to Chief Lloyd Allen of Springboro Volunteer Fire Department. While that building and the multiple hay bales inside were lost to the due to fire, there were no injuries.
The property is owned by Peggy Shidemantle, according to state police. It was a former dairy plant owned by Reick McJunkin Dairy Co., a forerunner to Kraft Foods Inc., now the Kraft Heinz Co.