Licking County woman says lack of fire service destroyed her home

Susan Dennis cries recalling her decades living in her now-destroyed Madison Township home
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A fire destroyed a home on the 11000 block of Marne Road in Madison Township late Tuesday night.

Madison Township’s fire station, the closest to the home, is 1.2 miles away. The second closest station is in East Newark. Both fire stations are now closed.

"I lived out here for 58 years. When they closed Madison Township, it was like a part of me died with them," said homeowner Susan Dennis, clearing out burned belongings from her home.

In community meetings held through 2016, neighboring Hanover Volunteer Fire Department promised they could cover more than twice the territory they were protecting with faster service and lower costs.

But in a three-month investigation, 10TV discovered staffing problems left Madison Township's fire station empty multiple times despite pledges to staff it.

"I just pray that it will work out. I think it will. But I do think we need to get these fire stations back up and running, people right? Yes. We do. Yes,” added Dennis.

Questions about safety after Madison Township closes fire department

According to Licking County response records posted by MECC911.org, Newark firefighters arrived first, three minutes after being dispatched. They came in from across town because Newark’s closest station is closed.

Nobody arrived from the Madison Township Fire station because that station is also closed.

Hanover Township sent one engine unit immediately after Newark. Response records show they did not send three other units requested by Licking County.

10 Investigates asked Hanover Volunteer Fire Chief Brian Spellman about their response. He has not responded with answers.

Madison Township Administrator, Mark Van Buren, said he has no plans to change fire protection and added Hanover firefighters are doing “a great job.”