December 18, 2014

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Sheffield Lake fire deemed suspicious

This home at 4780 Pinewood Drive in Sheffield Lake was damaged by a fire early Saturday morning. Janet Earnhart was critically injured in the blaze that killed 7 pets. EVAN GOODENOW/CHRONICLE

This home at 4780 Pinewood Drive in Sheffield Lake was damaged by a fire early Saturday morning. Janet Earnhart was critically injured in the blaze that killed 7 pets. EVAN GOODENOW/CHRONICLE

SHEFFIELD LAKE — A 69-year-old woman was critically injured in a fire deemed suspicious by the fire department.

Janet Earnhart was in critical condition Sunday night at MetroHealth Medical Center in Cleveland, according to a nursing supervisor. Earnhart was burned in a fire at her home at 4780 Pinewood Drive, off Abbe and Oster roads, that was called in at 5:41 a.m. Saturday. Brian Ormsby, Earnhart’s son, was treated for smoke inhalation and released from Metro.

Fire Lt. Brian Davis said Sunday the cause of the fire is under investigation by the department and the State Fire Marshal’s Office, but it is suspicious. Davis wouldn’t elaborate and said a report on the fire was incomplete. Michael Duchesne, a marshal’s office spokesman, didn’t return a call.

Flames were coming from the first and second floors of the two-story, 1,292-square-foot home when firefighters arrived, according to a Saturday news release. Firefighters removed Earnhart from the home and treated Ormsby — who was outside the home — for smoke inhalation. Six other people who were at the property when the fire broke out were outside the home and unhurt, Fire Chief Tim Card said Sunday.

The fire killed three cats and four dogs. Another cat was rescued and taken to Avon Lake Animal Hospital. Davis said the fire caused about $80,000 in structural damage and $40,000 in damage to belongings.

Next-door neighbor Sharon Lanz, whose garage had minor damage from the fire, said noise outside she couldn’t identify woke her up about 5:40 a.m. Saturday. Lanz heard popping sounds, saw flames and called 911. “When I looked at the burning house, the power lines were arcing,” she said.

Lanz said Earnhart is a mother of three who has lived in the home for at least 30 years. In addition to Earnhart and Ormsby, Lanz said Ormsby’s daughter, niece and nephew live in the home. It was unclear Sunday who the other three people at the home were.

The house is owned by Scott and Maryann Ormsby, according to the Lorain County Auditor’s website. The market value of the home and property is listed at $92,100.

Randy Lucas, of Cleveland, who said he grew up with Scott Ormsby in Sheffield Lake, said he visited Earnhart at Metro on Saturday.

Lucas said Brian Ormsby — who couldn’t be reached Sunday — told him he woke up to noise before the fire and thought a tree branch struck the house. Lucas said Brian Ormsby heard a dragging sound believed to be electrical lines on the house.

According to Lucas, Ormbsy tried to turn on a light, but there was no electricity. “As soon as he opened the (bedroom) door, he felt the heat and was like, ‘I’ve got to get everybody out of this house,’” Lucas said.

He added the Ormsbys are unsure about what caused the fire and had been doing home renovations for at least a couple of years. He said family members are coping as best they can. “They’re more or less in shock over the whole thing,” he said.

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