Ohio building fire damages historic Wright Brothers factory

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FILE PHOTO: Smithsonian's National Air and Space Museum reopens to the public in Washington

(Reuters) - A fire that erupted at an industrial complex in Dayton, Ohio, over the weekend badly damaged an airplane factory built by the Wright Brothers in the years after their historic first successful flight in 1903, officials said.

The blaze broke out in the early morning hours on Sunday and ripped through the property before firefighters could extinguish the flames.

"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 written statement.

"We are grateful to the fire department for their quick and brave response, and we are working to assess the extent of the damage and the impact on our heritage, Wittmer said.

The National Aviation Heritage Area, which manages the Wright Brothers factory and several other historic sites in the Dayton area, said officials held an emergency meeting on Monday morning to assess the damage.

The factory, which was built in 1910-11, still contains "significant original building features" from the time it was built, including a wood roof and support structure.

(Reporting by Dan Whitcomb in Los Angeles; Editing by Matthew Lewis)