LISBON, Ohio — Fire investigators continue to probe a blaze at the home owned by Donald Curfman Jr. and Bonnie Curfman — the couple at the heart of lawsuit filed by Witmer’s Feed and Grain, Renkenberger Road, Columbiana.
The state Fire Marshal’s office and the Columbiana County Arson Task Force are jointly investigating a fire that occurred at the Curfman residence at 11000 Black Road in Center Township May 7.
The Curfmans were reportedly not at home when the fire started and three separate buildings on the property including the home were involved.
The Curfmans are part of a lawsuit filed in Mahoning County Common Pleas Court last July by Curfman’s former employer, Witmer’s Feed and Grain.
The case is scheduled for mediation Sept. 24 in Youngstown.
A counter claim filed by the Curfmans against Witmer’s is set for Columbiana County in November.
Curfman was manager at the Garfield Road location in Beaver Township.
The lawsuit accuses the Curfmans and two other defendants of defrauding Witmer’s of over $1.1 million over four years.
Curfman has admitted to the scheme to defraud farmers but at the direction of the company president, Mike Witmer.
According to the lawsuit, Witmer’s is demanding more than $25,000 in collections and assets owned by Curfman that they believe to have been purchased with the money gained through the alleged scheme, including the home involved in the blaze.
Nationwide Insurance, the company that insures the home for the Curfmans, is working with investigators on the suspicious blaze, but would not comment on the claim.
A company statement said that, due to privacy policies, they don’t comment on a claim or the company’s handling of a claim.
However, an investigation by an insurance company is considered normal by the Ohio Insurance Institute.
Mary Bonelli, spokeswoman for the Ohio Insurance Institute said any time there is a house fire, insurance companies work with the local and state agencies to investigate the blaze for arson.