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Flames rip through old Ashtabula Harbor home

By:  Star Beacon - Shelley Terry

ASHTABULA - - Two young women and a family with two children spent Friday night with family and friends after a fire raced through a large two-family home at 1123 W. 9th St.

Firefighters arrived at about 1 p.m. to find a fully-involved house fire. Smoke billowed from the windows as firefighters scrambled to hook up fire hoses in snowy, 27-degree weather.

No one was injured in the blaze and firefighters rescued a Sheltie-type dog from the back of the house about 30 minutes after their arrival.

The upstairs tenants stood in the yard across the street from the home, staring at the burning house. They cried as snowflakes and ashes fell steadily on their heads.

"We started downstairs to take the dog outside and we smelled smoke," said Stacy Carrick, 24, who shared the upstairs apartment with friend, Stacy Holcomb, 23.

"The fire started downstairs," Carrick said.

The women ran and told the downstairs' tenant - - a mother with a toddler and a newborn - - to get out of the house. With no time to dress the children in warm outdoor clothing, the young mother grabbed them and took them to a relative's house, neighbors said.

The fire quickly spread to the second floor and then burst through the roof.

"All our stuff - - it's gone," Holcomb said.

Firefighters sprayed a white car parked in the driveway with water to keep it from catching on fire.

A tree across the street from the house caught fire, but firefighters extinguished it.

Neighbors gathered along the street as thick smoke filled the frosty air. Two firefighters stayed above the roof in the bucket of the ladder truck, dousing flames. Eventually, the roof collapsed into the structure.

"We saw it blazing in the air and we ran down here," said Barb Carroll, who lives several houses away on West Ninth Street.

Ron Bartone of Morton Drive spotted the fire before firefighters arrived.

"It was on the front of the house, crawling up," he said. "There was smoke."

Ashtabula resident Christopher Nash, who was visiting friends, said he saw smoke blowing out of the house.

"It's an old place," said Jason Strong, director of the housing and community development.

Strong said he's talked with the owner of the home and, although it's now rental property, the house has been in the family for a long time. The owner's name could not be found.

It took firefighters several hours to tame the flames and the cause of the fire remains under investigation, but the house was a total loss, firefighters said.

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