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Fire Rips Through Military Research Hangar

May 18, 2006

AKRON, Ohio (AP) _ Fire blazed Thursday at a former blimp hangar that now houses military research on a prototype surveillance airship. No injuries were immediately reported.

The blaze sent black smoke billowing across the Akron Fulton Airport. About a dozen fire crews were on the scene.

The cause of the blaze was not immediately clear, fire department spokesman Ed Sturkey said. Part of the structure, which stretches the length of almost four football fields, was under renovation.

The hangar was built in 1929 and is shaped like a flat-bottomed cucumber, with doors at each end weighing 600 tons each. Goodyear Tire & Rubber Co. assembled blimps for the military there during World War II.

Goodyear sold the property at least two decades ago, company spokesman Keith Price said, and it is now home to Pentagon-sponsored Lockheed Martin Corp. research on a $149 million prototype of the unmanned airship.

That project’s progress was unclear. The prototype will be 400 feet long and 140 feet in diameter. It is intended to stay aloft at an altitude of nearly 12 miles for months in one position while monitoring communications with long-range sensors.

Lockheed Martin also makes blimp components assembled by Goodyear.


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