LIMA — A Lima man is in custody on suspicion of arson for his alleged role in a May 25 fire that destroyed the National Overstock Liquidation of Ohio facilities at 405 Findlay Road.
According to Joe Lombardo, fire investigator for the Lima Fire Department, Elmer Mault, 61, was taken into custody after security system footage at the NOLO Pallets location showed several images of the Lima man inside the structure.
Lombardo said Mault is believed to have stolen items from the business, which sells full and partial pallets of merchandise returned from major retailers. He later returned to set the structure on fire “to cover his tracks,” police said.
Lombardo said Mault’s arrest “was the result of a joint effort between the Lima Police Department and the Lima Fire Department.”
Another suspect in the incident who reportedly received some of that stolen property has been questioned, but has not yet been charged, according to the fire department spokesman.
Firefighters were dispatched to the site around 4:30 p.m. on May 25 after an Allen County Sheriff’s Office deputy noticed flames coming from the rear of the building, on the Jackson Street side. Lima fire crews called for a second alarm and were assisted by American Township and Shawnee Township fire departments, who brought their ladder trucks to fight the fire from above.
The property, constructed in 1930, is owned by JNK Properties LLC and is valued at $103,700, according to the Allen County Auditor’s website. Firefighters called the building a total loss.
Brandon Barrett, owner and CEO of NOLO Pallets, said he was uncertain of the future for the business.
“I really have no clue what we’re going to do,” Barrett said immediately after the fire was extinguished. “We have a good following here. I’ll sit down and figure it out. I’m sure that the opportunity’s out there for us, but I just don’t know where we’re going to go yet.”
Barrett, who was leasing the building, indicated the merchandise inside that was destroyed was not insured.
“For us, there are significant losses because of the merchandise,” Barrett said. “And then whatever else comes from the building itself, and we don’t know, it’s going to hit us pretty hard. But we’ll recover, I guess.”