September 17, 2014

Mostly cloudy

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

  • Jenn McKeto

    Im sorry but if my house were on fire and the people were out id be running back in to save the lives of my animals. Homes and belongings are replacable… my pets are not! Should they deem this intentional I hope they are not only charged with arson but animal cruelty as well!

    • Bob Sweatt

      If it was intentionally set. I think animal cruelty will be the last thing they will be worried about. They should be more worried about attempted murder charges.

      Just saying

    • B4CE

      Spoken by someone that believes fires are like the movies portray them, all fire, no smoke.
      If you were truly sorry, you wouldn’t be casting judgment or making assumptions .
      And finally, pets ARE replaceable, people are not. The idea of you running in to save an animal only to be over come by smoke and become a victim yourself is plain silly. Just ask the children from southern ohio whose mother thought she would go back In her burning house to save the cat. She died, the cat got out. Now the kids have a cat instead of a mother. Wonder how the kids feel about animals not being replaceable ?

    • Connie M

      I can personally say because I’m a neighbor and was right over then soon when it happened and live across the street from the home. The smoke was unbelievably wicked to at points just outside is was hard to see or breathe so i can imagine how terrible it was inside ! I am almost positive that unfortunately the animals were dead from the smoke even before that poor Lady was rescued from in front of the door. I’m just very happy that the people got out alive and my heart and prayers go out to them. House fires are most definitely not like u see on TV and movies, so yes please don’t
      cast judgment without knowing.

      • B4CE

        What ? Someone with intimate knowledge of the situation disputing an arm chair quarterback commenting from the comforts of their home filled with plenty of clean breathing air?
        Well I’ll be! Thank you Connie!

    • B4CE

      I also find it interesting that 2 people are injured, one critically and you are concerned about animals.
      Let’s pray for a speeding recovery for those injured , and let the investigators do their job!

    • Zen Grouch

      Does the threat of being charged with ‘animal cruelty’ really put the fear of god into anyone these days?

      Someone could barbecue your dog, feed it to your kids and if charged with a crime maybe be forced by the judge to buy you another dog at the most.

  • Melissa Butler-Boyd

    I am Brian’s girlfriend. Brian is legally blind and tried his best to save everyone. He has been beating himself up about the animals because they were like his children. He had to save his mother and ended up in the hospital. Brian and his mother would never have hurt those animals. I work at Fifth Third Bank. I opened a benefit account for the family. Donations can be made at any Fifth Third or can be mailed to the Columbia Station Branch at 26700 Royalton Rd. Columbia Station, Oh 44028. The account is under Melissa Butler-Boyd for the Benefit of Brian Ormsby and Janet Earnhart. They lost everything so any help or prayers would be greatly appreciated.

  • Kristine Lucas

    Janet and Brian are good friends with My husband and myself. My husband grew up with them when he lived in Sheffield Lake and I have known the family for the past 15 years. How dare anybody pass judgment on a family they do not know!!!! They are a very loving close knit family who would do anything for anyone!! I am very happy that all of the people got out alive, and I am sorry that their fur babies lost their lives. No one knows what exactly happened Saturday morning, the only way we are going to find out is when the fire marshal releases his report. Please just keep the family in your prayers and stop passing judgment!!!!!!!