October 20, 2014

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Fire burns Lorain family out of house

LORAIN — Cradling his yellow tabby cat in his arms, Andrew Yannucci could hardly speak Friday night as he surveyed the burned shell of his home on East 33rd Street.

“I don’t know what to do,” he said, a spot of soot staining his cheek.

STEVE MANHEIM/CHRONICLE
A candle knocked from a window sill may have been the cause of a fire on East 33rd Street in Lorain.

Assistant Fire Chief Roy Cochran said an overturned candle in a first-floor window started a blaze in Yannucci’s living room while he was away for the evening, destroying everything inside before firefighters could arrive.

A teenage baby sitter had been at the home, watching Yannucci’s four children, Cochran said. When the baby sitter went upstairs to put an infant to sleep, another child downstairs touched the candle, suffering possible first-degree burns in the process, and the candle toppled from the sill, he said.

The children and the baby sitter all escaped the home — they were bundled in blankets outside when firefighters arrived.

Carmen Tejada lives next door to the Yannuccis, and she said she heard sirens, then saw flames billowing from the windows on the west side of the house.

“First it was coming toward our house, and I was scared. I ran out on the porch,” she said.

Cochran said a dog in the backyard of Yannucci’s home was fine, and three newborn kittens were saved. The kittens’ mother, however, died inside the home, Cochran said.

Firefighter Scott Wood found the yellow cat that survived in the basement.

“You try to console them with the fact that everyone is OK and all of these material things can be replaced,” Cochran said.

The local chapter of the American Red Cross was to provide shelter for the Yannuccis for the next several days.

Contact Jason Hawk at 653-6264 or jhawk@chroniclet.com.