Last month, one of northern Over-the-Rhine's iconic but long-vacant brewery buildings suffered a four-alarm fire that engulfed its roof and nearly claimed the structure entirely. Now, officials say they believe the blaze was set on purpose — and they've arrested a suspect.
According to Hamilton County Court documents, 24-year-old Andre Dargahi of Fairview was arrested last week in connection with the fire. The court filings allege that physical evidence at the scene and "social media account data" by Dargahi point to his involvement.
"The fire was set in a manner that caused fire to rapidly advance throughout the structure from the area of origin due to propane tanks being moved from their place of storage and placed nearby where the fire was set," the court filings read.
A large fire in the early hours of Dec.15 caused the roof to collapse at around 5:30 in the morning and led Cincinnati firefighters to declare the building that looms over Elm Street a "total loss," though at least two Cincinnati City Councilmembers say there are no immediate plans to demolish the cavernous structure. Damage to the building is estimated at $500,000.
Dargahi is charged with arson, aggravated arson and breaking and entering. He appeared in court Jan. 18 and is in the Hamilton County Justice Center on $320,000 bond, according to court documents. Another hearing is scheduled for Jan. 28.
Popularly known as the "Metal Blast" building for the painted sign advertising its last occupant, the Cincinnati Metal Blast Co., the structure at the northern end of Elm Street has a deep history in Cincinnati.
The former brewery facility dates to roughly 1850 and was under renovation by its owner, Fred Berger, at the time of the fire. No one was injured in the blaze, though it took 60 firefighters to bring the fire under control and 36 hours to extinguish it completely.