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Newport Laundromat



By Julie Brienza

Times Staff Writer

March 27, 1982

NEWPORT—One man was injured Friday evening when a Halliburton Oil and Gas comenting truck crashed into a gas meter beside the Newport Laundromat and set the building on fire. 

            The driver of the truck, Steve Blake, 29, of Zanesville, was taken to Marietta Memorial Hospital where he was admitted in fair condition, according to shift supervisor Tarcella Hendershot.  He had burns on his face and hands, she said.  No other injuries were reported in the accident.

            Blake told the Ohio Highway Patrol he attempted to pull into the Laundromat parking lot at about 6 p.m. when his brakes failed.  He and his passenger, Jerry E. Conroy of Cambridge, were traveling south on Ohio 7.  The truck crashed into one corner of the cement-block Laundromat, breaking a medium-pressure gas main that exploded into flames higher than the roof of that single-level store.

            An employee at the Laundromat, Freeda Adams, and a customer were inside the store when the accident occurred.

            “I was talking to the woman, who was drying her clothes,” Adams said, “and the smoke started to roll in just right now.  The woman said to break a window, and that’s how we got out.”

            Jerry Barnhouse, who lives in Riverside Apartments across the street, said he heard a boom and took off running for the Laundromat when he saw the fire.

            Firefighters from the Newport Volunteer Fire Department contained the blaze in one fourth of the building for about 45 minutes before River Gas Co. workers shut off the gas line at 7 p.m., said Fire Chief Stephen McMahon.

            “If they had a problem turning off the gas, it’s an understandable problem.”  The fire chief said the gas company crew had to be selective in turning off the line so the entire area would not be without gas.

            McMahon said he couldn’t determine the cause of the fire until he got more information on the accident.  Neither he nor the patrol has determined what caused Blake’s truck to go off the roadway.

            Firefighters saved 75 percent of the building, McMahon said, but added most of the damage was from water sprayed to keep the fire under control.

            Max Patterson, owner of the Newport Laundromat for 10 years, said he has some insurance on the building.

            The truck was destroyed. - Extracted from "Footprints"