Historic Wright Brothers airplane factory damaged in fire
A historic complex housing a former airplane factory founded by the Wright Brothers in Dayton, Ohio, was damaged in an early Sunday morning fire.
Fire crews were on the scene by 2:30 a.m. and found the flames had swept through the complex. Crews used hoses to spray water on the flames and used aerial ladders to get water into openings in the roof.
Firefighters battled the flames into the following afternoon. Black smoke continued to stream from a collection of multiple hangar buildings, including historic Wright Brothers airplane factory hangars, and flames could be seen on the backside of the hangars, The Dayton Daily News reported.
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Capt. Brad French with the Dayton Fire Department said the structure involved is listed on the National Historic Register as the first aircraft manufacturing facility founded by brothers Wilbur and Orville Wright, who conducted history’s first successful manned power plane flights near Kitty Hawk, North Carolina, in 1903.
“We are deeply saddened by the fire that damaged our historic Wright Company airplane factory, the first purpose built buildings for the aviation industry,” Mackensie Wittmer, executive director of the National Aviation Heritage Area, said in a Facebook post.
The Wright Company, formed by the Wright brothers in November 1909, produced about 120 airplanes in 13 different models, according to the National Aviation Heritage Area. It has said the plane production buildings were constructed in 1910 and 1911.
The group has worked to preserve and restore the factory as a site of the Dayton Aviation Heritage National Historical Park “completing the story of the Wright brothers’ invention, development, and commercialization of the airplane in Dayton,” officials said.
The cause of the fire remains under investigation and a damage estimate has not yet been released.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.