Smoldering grill may be cause of fatal fire in Ohio
WARREN, Ohio — Fire probably caused by a charcoal grill swept through a family’s home that appeared to have no smoke alarms early yesterday, killing a couple, their two school-age 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 about 5 a.m. and later searched the home and found 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, located about 50 miles southeast of Cleveland.
Fire Chief Ken Nussle said it appears that charcoal was still smoldering in the grill, near a rear wall and an abutting wooden fence.
Radiant heat from the grill probably caused the fire, which then spread to the upper level of the home, said Shane Cartmill, a spokesman for the state fire marshal’s office.
Investigators found no evidence of smoke alarms inside the home, he said.
Cartmill declined to speculate on what transpired from the last known time the unattended charcoal was smoldering, about 3 a.m., until the fire was reported. It was likely that the victims were sleeping at that time, Warren fire Captain Jeff Younkins said.
The family had a 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 on a summer sleepover.
The names and ages of the victims were not immediately confirmed, authorities said.
An official cause will be determined after a coroner conducts autopsies, Cartmill said.
Four firefighters suffered minor injuries, Younkins said.