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City fire leaves nine homeless


By:  Star Beacon - Shelley Terry and Mark Todd

ASHTABULA — A family of nine is homeless today after a fire swept through their two-story West Prospect Road home early Tuesday afternoon.

None of the occupants or firefighters called to the scene were injured, but five cats died from smoke, firefighters said. One woman had to jump from a second-story window, according to a report.

Firefighters were dispatched to 1040 W. Prospect around 1:14 p.m. The first trucks to arrive saw flames and heavy smoke rolling from the enclosed front porch and foyer, according to a report. Black smoke was also billowing from windows on the first- and second-floors, as well as the attic, firefighters said.

Initial reports indicated a disabled person in a wheelchair could be in the building, firefighters said. The fire was quickly doused, allowing firefighters to conduct a search of the 2/12 story house amid heavy smoke, according to reports.

Prior to the trucks’ arrival, a 25-year-old woman in a second-floor bedroom smelled smoke and escaped the fire only by leaping from a window, firefighters said. The woman went next door to a Wendy’s restaurant where she was treated for smoke inhalation by Community Care Ambulance personnel, firefighters said. She was then transported to Ashtabula County Medical Center, according to reports.

No one else was home at the time, firefighters said.

Assisting at the scene were firefighters from Ashtabula and Saybrook townships.

The blaze caused an estimated $70,000 damage to the structure and contents. The house was insured, but not the contents.

A fire report released Tuesday night did not identify the occupants or the owner of the house. Cause of the blaze is under investigation by the city fire department, according to the report. Firefighters stayed on the scene more than three hours.

The eastbound lane of the multi-lane street was closed to traffic during the fire. Family of the occupants sought shelter at the restaurant, which closed its doors for nearly two hours while fire officials and volunteers from the Red Cross met with them. The restaurant was not damaged in the fire.

Firefighters commended the management and staff of Wendy’s for assisting the victims.

“The family is staying with a family member who is able to help them out for a few days,” said Rene Palagy, executive director of the Ashtabula County chapter of the American Red Cross. “We will be working with this family for some time.”

Anyone willing to help may donate to the Red Cross Disaster Fund, Ashtabula County Chapter of the American Red Cross, 433 Center St., Ashtabula, Oh 44004.

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