“It was a narrow escape for all of them,” said Stang, referring to 15 Jackson St., Monroeville, which is now a total loss. “It could have been so much worse.”
A husband, wife and their three children — ages 3, 7 and 10 — lived at the Jackson Street rental house. Firefighters responded to a blaze, which was reported at 12:43 a.m. Wednesday.
“The report came in as a kitchen fire; that is where it started,” Stang said. “The resident put grease on the stove to make french fries and fell asleep. … It overheated and caught fire.”
Upon arrival, there was heavy smoke throughout the house, which didn’t have any working smoke detectors. Stang said the crew looked through a back window and saw flames throughout the residence.
“The whole back half was burning,” the chief added. “Working smoke detectors would have made all the difference.”
Firefighters had the blaze under control in about 30 minutes.
The family rented the house. Stang said the homeowner has insurance, but the family doesn’t have any renter’s insurance.
“Renter’s insurance is so cheap. I don’t understand why people don’t spend a few bucks a month for renter’s insurance,” he added.
American Red Cross officials arrived at the scene about 3 a.m. Stang said he isn’t sure where the family is staying, but noted the Red Cross assist the residents with lodging and clothing.
The other fire was at 5725 Ohio 547 in Sherman Township and was reported at 9:25 a.m. Saturday. The Bellevue Fire Department provided mutual aid with two trucks.
“We had a report of smoke coming from the roof,” Stang said.
A passerby noticed the smoke, but didn’t see any flames. There were vehicles at the house at the time. Stang said the person knocked on the door, but didn’t get an answer.
Upon arrival, firefighters found heavy smoke coming from the eaves. Stang said the crew entered through the front door, where there was billowing smoke and extinguished a fire to the left of the door.
“They were able to extinguish that, but smoke (coming) from the second floor told us there was more,” added the chief, noting firefighters were concerned there were people inside the house.
Two firefighters were sent upstairs to search the residence.
“But there was too much heat and too much smoke,” Stang said.
Bellevue firefighters went to the roof and cut a hole. Stang said this allowed the smoke and fire to have somewhere to go and gave other crew members inside access to the second floor.
“The search for occupants was negative,” the chief added.
While the crews were at the scene, the homeowner’s son arrived and told them his parents were gone.
“The fire actually started in the basement of the house,” said Stang, noting it had been burning “for a while” before the flames followed the duct work up to the first and second floors.
There was extensive smoke and heat damage throughout the brick house. Four cats died in the fire.
“The brick acts like a brick oven and retains the heat, so the heat was incredible,” Stang said.
Firefighters were unable to pinpoint the exact point of origin in the basement, he added. In the area were several appliances — a sump pump, dehumidifier and water heater.
Investigators with the state fire marshal’s office were called to the scene due to the extensive damage. An estimated loss was unavailable at press time.