Unattended candle causes house fire on Ohio 601

Cary Ashby • Oct 29, 2015 at 12:05 PM

No one was injured in a house fire at 3969 Ohio 601 Wednesday. Norwalk firefighters suspect the probable cause was an unattended candle left burning on the living room coffee table.

The Huron County Sheriff's Office received a call at 2:24 p.m. and dispatched firefighters and North Central EMS. A dispatcher, soon after the call, said "it was going pretty good."

When firefighters arrived at 2:31, they "found heavy black smoke coming from the eaves of (the) ranch home," Capt. Don Helton wrote in his report.

Troy Wolfe, a nearby U.S. 20 resident, said "the flames were pretty well (gone)" when he arrived about 2:30. He recalled seeing "a large amount of smoke, the fire department breaking some windows to get inside to gain access to get everything under control."

Chief Doug Coletta said it didn't take long to control the blaze. It caused about $75,000 worth of damage to the property and an estimated $25,000 to the contents.

"I can't give you a time frame. It was pretty quick. It was easy to control," the chief said.

Coletta said homeowner Hope Calhoun let out the dogs after she blew out the candles. She and her husband Ronald had been burning candles because they had no electrical power because of strong winds Tuesday night.

Strong winds flung a piece of metal roof from an unfinished barn, knocking down a power line and a large tree in the front of the Calhouns' property, a neighbor said.

As of Wednesday afternoon, the roof fragment was on part of the branches of the downed tree. It had been uprooted and lay near a ditch, which had water running quickly through it.

The fire was contained to the living room and part of the kitchen.

"She said she blew (the candles) out before she went out to talk to her husband," Coletta said. "What exactly happened, we don't know."

"After burning to the base of (the) candle, the top of the table ignited and spread to the foam rubber padding of the nearby sofa," Helton said in his report. "(The) damage from the fire indicated a quick burn with no deep seated burn areas, consistent with the burning characteristics of this type of material. The burning coach caused extensive heat and smoke damage throughout the structure."

Helton went on to say Hope Calhoun was the last person in the home and the couple were in an outbuilding working on a vehicle when the fire started.

The Calhouns declined to comment Wednesday after the fire. It's unknown where they are now living.

Huron County Deputy Dog Warden Gary Ousley was on scene because there was a report at least one of the dogs was inside.

"The owner went into the house to retrieve it," Sheriff's Chief Deputy Bob Sutherland said. "(Ousley) checked with the commander. They said everything was OK and they left."

Coletta said Hope Calhoun told him the dogs were never in the house.

"I never saw the dogs," Coletta added.

Firefighters returned to a rekindle at 6:08 p.m. They had returned to Norwalk less than 45 minutes later.

The fire remains under investigation.

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