No Smoke Detectors In Deadly Ohio House Fire

Thursday, November 29th 2007, 10:56 am
By: News On 6

TOLEDO, Ohio (AP) _ A fire started by a candle swept through a two-story house, killing a woman and three children, fire officials said. The woman's body was found on the lower level. The children, two girls and a younger boy, were found together in an upstairs hallway, according to fire officials.

``They may have become disoriented and tried to huddle together and tried to get out,'' said Deputy Fire Chief Luis Santiago.

The fire started around 10 p.m. on Wednesday and was contained within an hour, according to fire officials. Authorities said it appeared there were no smoke detectors in the house.

Neighbor Mike Matzinger, 49, said he was doing dishes when he saw flames shooting out the home's first-floor living room window and ran outside. He tried to break through a steel back door but it was locked and wouldn't budge, so he called to the children, who he thought were upstairs. Matzinger said he yelled for them to come to the back window so he could catch them, but they never came.

He then ran to the front of the house, where a man who lives there was outside without shoes, screaming, ``My kids, my kids, they're in the house.'' Matzinger told him, ``We can't get them out.''

The man ran toward the home, where flames and smoke were pouring out the windows, and collapsed as if in shock, Matzinger said. The man was taken away by ambulance, but his condition was not known. The fire blackened the walls and ceilings of the home, melted its plastic siding and charred its wood frame. It also melted the siding of Matzinger's home a driveway away.

The victims' names and ages were not released. The relationship between the woman and the children wasn't immediately clear, said fire Lt. Mike Mowka. Matzinger said the woman was the mother of at least one of the children. He said the couple and the three children were the only residents of the rental home and moved in over the summer.