ELYRIA — Tina Manning said she was in her apartment at 187 Bath St., preparing for work. Her boyfriend, Christian McGee, was asleep about 11:10 a.m. Saturday when an explosion blew in their front door and part of a wall.
Seconds later, Manning said a badly burned Krystalyn Morris entered their apartment pleading to use their shower and call 911. Manning and McGee said the explosion blew off much of Morris’ clothes, and her skin was peeling.
Don Starcher, of 176 Bath St., said he ran to the home and told Morris to cross the street to get away from the fire that followed the explosion. He said he didn’t want to touch her, fearing it would cause her more pain.
“It was terrible,” he said. “She was burnt from head to toe.”
Cassandra Limon, of 181 Bath St., said Morris, who lives in Apt. 3, was in agony.
“She was screaming, ‘Help me! I’m dying! Where’s the ambulance?’” Limon said. “We tried to get everybody away from the house because there was one explosion and we didn’t know if there was going to be another one.”
Morris, 24, was in critical condition in the burn unit at MetroHealth Medical Center in Cleveland on Sunday night. No one else was injured in the fire, said Assistant Chief Tim Mitchell.
Mitchell said the explosion and fire began in an apartment in the three-unit addition in the rear of the two-story wood-frame duplex. Both the addition and the duplex were substantially damaged. The home is between West River Road North and state Route 57.
Mitchell said firefighters needed about 20 minutes to extinguish the fire. The cause of the fire remained under investigation late Saturday, but it is believed to be accidental. A report on the fire was unavailable.
Tony Jackson, who said he owns the home with two other people, said he had come from Columbus on Saturday to do repairs with Starcher to the house. Jackson, who said his mother owned the home before dying in 2004, said sewage had been backing up into the basement of the addition after it rained.
Jackson and Starcher said plumbing work was done in the basement last month, but the problem persisted. Jackson said the explosion appeared to come from Apt. 3.
Jackson said the units in the addition have electricity, but not natural gas. However, Columbia Gas of Ohio workers were on the scene after the explosion.
Columbia Gas spokesman Ray Frank said workers tested the gas lines going into the home and found no leaks. He said lines inside apartments hadn’t been tested.
Manning said Morris was living with a man in the apartment, but he wasn’t home when the explosion occurred.
Manning has undergone severe physical trauma before. In 2007, Morris was mauled by a dog in Vermilion, which her family said left permanent scars.