Grill likely caused fire that killed 6
Friday, June 17, 2011
WARREN, Ohio (AP) — Fire likely caused by a charcoal grill swept through a family’s home that appeared to have no smoke alarms early Thursday, killing a couple, their two children and two other children who were sleeping over after a cookout, officials said.
Firefighters arrived to flames that were shooting up to 25 feet into the air around 5 a.m. and later searched the home to find the bodies of the two adults on the first floor and all of the children dead upstairs, Warren Mayor Michael J. O’Brien said. He called the fire the worst in the history of this city, about 50 miles southeast of Cleveland.
Fire Chief Ken Nussle said it appears the grill, near a rear wall and abutting wooden fence, was still in use around 3 a.m. The fire burned a hole in the fence through which the clamshell grill could be seen on the back deck hours later. Heat from the blaze peeled vinyl siding from a neighboring house more than 30 feet away.
The family had a backyard cookout Wednesday night with about eight to 10 people, said Deborah Ballard, who lives next door. The mayor described the father as self-employed and the mother as a homemaker, and he said the other two children were relatives enjoying a summer sleepover. The names and ages of the victims were not immediately confirmed, authorities said.
Investigators found no evidence of smoke alarms inside the home, said Shane Cartmill, a spokesman for the state fire marshal’s office. He said radiant heat from the grill most likely caused the fire, which then spread to the upper level of the home.
An official cause will be determined after a coroner conducts autopsies, Cartmill said.
The family had lived in the neat gray home with white shutters for about six years, Ballard said.
“They were the sweetest neighbors you’d ever want,” Ballard said. “There was never any problems with them.”
The smell of smoke woke her up and she saw flames “jumping off the roof.”