August 27, 2014

Elyria
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Coroner’s office identifies woman who died after apartment fire yesterday

James Justice, center, and brother Edward, of Elyria, talk with an Elyria firefighter after they pulled a 67-year-old woman from an apartment fire on Columbus Street yesterday. (CT photo by Steve Manheim.)

James Justice, center, and brother Edward, of Elyria, talk with an Elyria firefighter after they pulled a woman from an apartment fire on Columbus Street yesterday. (CT photo by Steve Manheim.)

ELYRIA — A woman who was badly burned in a fire in her apartment at 315 Columbus St. around 5:40 p.m. Tuesday died overnight at the hospital, according to Elyria Fire Chief Rich Benton.

Jacqueline N. Berg, 68, died about 11:45 p.m. at MetroHealth Medical Center in Cleveland after being LifeFlighted there from EMH Regional Medical Center, according to Powell Caesar, spokesman for the Cuyahoga County coroner.

Ed Justice, who lived across the street from Berg, said he and his brother, James Justice, were watching television when the fire broke out. Ed Justice said his wife, Rhonda Justice, was leaving their home and spotted the fire.

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Ed Justice, 50, said as he put on his shoes, his brother, 51, ran to the burning apartment.

Drawing on his firefighting experience in the U.S. Navy, Ed Justice said his brother ran low in a crouch into the apartment and began pulling Berg out. Ed Justice said by the time he arrived Berg was lying by a burning couch. A light socket in the apartment had melted.

“She yelled, ‘I’m burning.’ And Jim had yelled out, ‘Take my hands! We’ll pull you out!’” Ed Justice said. “He turned her around and started pulling her out, and I got a hold of her other hand and we pulled her out the door.”

Berg was badly burned and her hair was singed and parts of her skin were peeling.

Berg was lying about 15 feet from her apartment and covered with a blanket when firefighters arrived at the brick, one-floor, approximately 10-unit apartment building at 5:43 p.m., said Fire Capt. Robert Donofrio.

The cause of the fire, which Donofrio said caused about $55,000 in damage, remained under investigation Tuesday night. Donofrio credited the Justice brothers for trying to rescue Berg.

“We don’t recommend anybody do that,” he said. “But what they did, sure, it helped her” chances of survival.

Caesar says there is no ruling yet on the cause of Berg’s death.

Contact Evan Goodenow 329-7129 or egoodenow@chroniclet.com.