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Two fires cause heavy damage to structures


By:  William Lazirko

ASHTABULA - Two fires in less than three hours kept the Ashtabula Fire Department busy Thursday and left several residents without anywhere to live.

The home of a 91-year-old West Prospect Road woman was destroyed by a fire that started shortly before 8 p.m. The call came little more than two hours after the last unit cleared from an apartment fire on Cleveland Avenue that displaced three residents of an apartment there. The apartment fire started in a kitchen and led to the temporary evacuation of a six-unit apartment building at 4102 Cleveland St.

An engine truck and a ladder truck from the Ashtabula Fire Department were dispatched to the fire just before 5 p.m. after residents of the three-story building there called to a report a kitchen fire.

Firefighters arrived to find no smoke or fire showing, but when they went in, they found heavy smoke in the kitchen of a first-floor apartment, according to a report by Lt. Shawn Gruber. The kitchen cabinets were engulfed in flame, and fire was rolling along the ceiling.

After an extinguisher was used to put out the flames, a hose was brought in to knock out any lingering hot spots. The fire was under control about 15 minutes after firefighters arrived.

The fire apparently started when residents forgot about food cooking on the electric stove.

"They had something on the stove and I guess they forgot about it," Capt. Mark Calaway said. "They left it unattended and it caught fire."

Firefighters shut off the stove and removed a pan from the house. Electric power was shut off to the apartment, which suffered smoke, fire and water damage. Residents of the other five units were allowed back in after the fire, Calaway said.

The fire did about $10,000 damage to the property and destroyed another $5,000 in contents, according to Calaway's report.

The call on the Prospect Road fire came just before 8 p.m. Firefighters arrived to find heavy smoke pouring from a doorway and flames in two front rooms of the house. Fire damage appeared to be concentrated in a first-floor bedroom where a mattress, pictures and furniture were destroyed. Flames had spread along the ceiling and into a adjacent living room. Even away from the bedroom, the heat from the blaze was intense enough to melt the blades of a ceiling fan in the living room, leaving them drooping toward the floor. Upstairs bedrooms were damaged by smoke, Capt. Gerald Senger.

Senger said the cause of the fire was under investigation. Damage was estimated at $30,000 to the structure and $20,000 to contents.

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