MANSFIELD, Ohio -- It's not certain when the Ohio State Reformatory Halloween haunt, "Escape from Blood Prison," will open, but organizers are working to fix fire code violations in hopes of being able to open this weekend.
Mansfield fire Chief Steve Strickling on Monday said firefighters inspected the haunt last week and again Monday and found fire code violations that must be corrected in order for the attraction to open. The haunted event will be re-inspected multiple times before Thursday's planned opening, he said.
"The fire department is working with the state fire marshals office and the city's codes and permits," he said.
Strickling said haunt organizers built two new additions to the tour route this year.
"They built some things they didn't tell us ahead of time," he said. "They called us out there for an inspection with us thinking it was going to be the same as last year. There was quite a bit of difference."
A life-sized, two-story house was built inside the prison, and organizers were told the ceilings had to be removed, he said, "so that products of combustion would go up if there was a fire."
Strickling said the large house was too confining.
Organizers also built an exterior, stucco-like tunnel that was supposed to be a permanent addition. It will not be used, Stricking said.
"We were not comfortable with the general fire protection exits, the props; we were not just happy with the way things were looking to the point where I said there's got to be some changes if you're going to be able to open," the chief said.
"We're working diligently with them and will be over the course of the next two to three days in hopes of them being able to meet enough of our expectations," Strickling said, declining to give specific details of the violations. "We couldn't let them operate with the hazards we saw."
Strickling said the fire department will be working with the haunt manager Vic Amesquita and his crew in the future. Amesquita could not immediately be reached for comment Monday afternoon.
The new haunted experience was to open on Oct. 12. Last week, OSR officials posted on social media that the Halloween event would not be open from Oct. 12 to Oct. 15 due to logistical obstacles with its fire suppression system.
Monday afternoon, OSR posted on its website the attraction "plans to officially open on Thursday."
"The preservation society is making every effort to ensure a safe and positive environment for its visitors," OSR posted. "We are grateful to our community and patrons for their patience and understanding during this time. Please continue to visit our website and social media for updates."
The Halloween-themed event is the preservation society's biggest fundraiser, allowing the board members to make renovations and repairs to the structure, which serves as the site for many events, including Civil War encampments and weddings.
Visitors will see the historic cell blocks, as on past tours, Amesquita said earlier.
Copyright: Mansfield News Journal