July 29, 2014

Elyria
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Lorain fires investigated

House that was site of fatal 1997 fire burns again

LORAIN — Fire officials will continue investigating the causes of separate fires on Tuesday that heavily damaged two homes in the city, one of which was the site of a deadly 1997 fire.
The fires on West 22nd Street and West 17th Street were separated by a little more than a mile and eight hours as fire crews barely had a chance to rest between the two blazes.
“Both of them were pretty large fires, and we didn’t have a lot of time in between, but thankfully nobody was harmed in either,” Fire Capt. Jeff Fenn said.
The first fire started about
2 p.m. at 618 W. 22nd St. in a back first-floor bedroom, according to Fenn.
“The occupant of the home wasn’t there, but her mother was there. The mother stated that her nephew smelled something for some time but couldn’t figure out what it was,” Fenn said. “After a while, he went to the bedroom and felt that the door was hot and kicked it in to find the room in flames.”
The mother and her nephew made it out of the house, but Fenn said residents need to use more caution when checking a room for fires.
“If you feel that a door is hot, don’t try to open it or kick it or anything. Just get out of the house,” Fenn said.
Fire officials estimate the tenant, Nicole King, lost $10,000 to $15,000 in personal property, while damage to the home was estimated at $80,000. The chimney and the attic caved in on the rest of the house during the fire, and Fenn said the rest would likely have to be demolished.
The second fire started about 10:30 p.m. at 1224 W. 17th St., where officials were forced to call emergency aid to bring in more water as fire crews dumped gallon after gallon the on burning house.
“That fire was screaming, and we immediately had to take a defensive position and get as much water on it as we could,” Fenn said.
 Fire crews dumped water on the vacant house until just after 1 p.m., when the flames were finally under control, Fenn said.
The house on West 17th Street was the site of a December 1997 fire in which 14-year-old Laura Ashley died from smoke inhalation after she was trapped in an upstairs bedroom.
“I knew it was the same house when we were there,” Fenn said. “I was one of the people who was in on that fire, and I remember when they carried her out of the house.”
The attic in the vacant house caved as fire shot up into the home’s upper floor, Fenn said, and the rest of the home will likely be demolished.