LORAIN — Out of a crowd of almost 40 neighbors who gathered around a flaming house at 1012 E. Erie Ave. on Monday, neighbor Tim Hiser said one man stuck out.
“He was hysterical,” Hiser said of neighbor Mark Kwasny, who rushed to his house after it caught fire about 9 p.m. on Monday. “It was a very sad situation.”
Vicki Kwasny, Mark Kwasny’s wife, died in the fire along with four dogs.
Firefighters, working in 25-degree temperatures, extinguished the fire around 11:45 p.m. After searching the house, they found Kwasny’s body on the second floor. Neighbors were shocked by the death of the 51-year-old Kwasny.
“I just talked to her the other day,” neighbor Candi Cobb said, adding that she and Vicki Kwasny had talked about Kwasny’s cancer diagnosis, which Cobb said upset Kwasny.
Despite her illness, neighbors said Vicki could often be seen outside gardening or spending time with her dogs, including a large Great Dane that was well known in the neighborhood.
“They were always outside,” Hiser said of the Kwasnys.
Mark Kwasny wouldn’t comment Monday and couldn’t be reached for comment Tuesday.
Assistant Fire Chief Chief Dennis Livchak said firefighters boarded up the house at the intersection of Idaho Avenue. He estimated $66,000 in damage to the home and $50,000 to personal belongings.
The cause of Kwasny’s death is expected to be released today. Lorain County Coroner Stephen Evans said foul play isn’t suspected.
Livchak said the fire began in a second-floor bedroom where Kwasny was found. Firefighters arrived about two minutes after the call, but the intensity of the blaze hampered rescue attempts. Livchak said high wind and the balloon-frame construction of the house, built in 1900, made the fire burn longer.
The cause of the fire remains under investigation, Livchak said.
Reporter Evan Goodenow contributed to this story.