UPDATE 3 - Fatal fire claims family of five

Story updated with names of victims, more details.
Cary Ashby
Nov 28, 2012


“A very sad day.”

Tragedy struck a Seneca County family Tuesday as authorities found five bodies following an early-morning house fire at 13843 Township Road 124 near Republic in Seneca County, about 20 miles southwest of Norwalk.

The victims were tentatively identified as Joseph D. Hamilton; his wife, Holly R. Hamilton, 31; her daughter, Olivia Bondy, 11; and the couple’s two sons, Jaxon Hamilton, 8, and Linkin Hamilton, 6.

(NOTE - To see pictures of the fire scene, click HERE.)

The fire was reported at 3:17 a.m. Tuesday by a truck driver traveling on Ohio 162, said Dean Henry, Seneca County public information officer. The trucker “saw flames and smoke and called it in,” he said.

When A.V.R. Fire District crews arrived on scene, the two-story, turn-of-the-century farmhouse was fully involved in what apparently was a fast-moving fire, Henry said.

Little remained of the wood-frame house as firefighters using a backhoe sifted through the rubble Tuesday afternoon in search of the victims’ bodies.

The first two bodies found in the morning are believed to be those of children who were in the same bed. A third victim was found in the 1 o’clock hour. Firefighters found another body after that. The fifth body was discovered shortly after 2 p.m.

Administrators at Seneca East Local Schools in nearby Attica where the children were students were contacted, and plans were activated to notify their classmates and make arrangements for counselors to be on hand for students who needed them.

Olivia was a sixth-grader; Jaxon was a second-grader, and Linkin was in kindergarten, according to Seneca East Elementary Principal Brad Powers. The children were not at school Monday, he said, because they had gone out of town for the long holiday weekend and were not expected to return until Tuesday.

Powers sent a letter home with students Tuesday informing them of the house fire.

Attica-area firefighters received mutual aid from the Huron River Joint Fire District, Bellevue and Republic agencies.

The Bellevue Fire Department was called at 3:30 a.m. and arrived at the house at 3:57. Eleven firefighters responded with a tanker; they were released from the scene at 6:56 a.m.

Late in the morning there were 30 firefighters still at the scene.

“There were significantly more earlier in the day,” Henry said.

Through the afternoon, firefighters from Attica and Republic remained on the scene spraying water on the charred remains of the house, which continued to smolder.

Investigators with the state fire marshal’s office were on-scene all day, spokesman Matt Mullins said. He and A.V.R. Fire Chief Brett Meyers referred all questions to Henry.

“The state fire marshal’s office is handling the investigation,” Henry said. “The Seneca County engineer is helping out with the recovery effort.”

Henry said the Seneca County Coroner’s Office was on scene as the recovery effort continued into the afternoon.

Also at the scene was Seneca County Sheriff Bill Eckleberry, who was unavailable for comment.

County auditor records indicate the Reed Township house was purchased by Joseph D. Hamilton in 2004.

There was no indication of where in the home, or how, the deadly fire started, Henry said.

EDITOR’S NOTE: McClatchy-Tribune News Service contributed to this story.



Horrible story.I feel terrible for any surviving family members.The holiday season wil NEVER be the same.Prayers.


So sad,May God hold you all now and be with the family.
Keeping you in my prayers.

Sitting In The ...

My thoughts and prayers are with the family.


Such a horrible & sad tragedy..My thoughts & prayers go out to the surviving family members & close friends..May God be with each & every one of you at this time..


It's very sad. There's nothing good about it at all, but if that happened to our house, I would rather our whole family go together. I don't think we could live without each other.

Cliff Cannon

@ Betherella : " There's nothing good about it at all" Extremely true,yet missing ---the one "good" thing----about this horribly unspeakable tragedy. What it just taught you.

For as you noted,of your own family you would rather you all went,as opposed to losing even a single member. Obviously,you placed your self in the midst of this burning inferno. Then allowed your motherly instinct's to swing into action and the thought of leaving a child behind scorched your soul,didn't it?

So as sickening as this ungodly loss is. There is something 'good' in it.For it forces all of us-- untouched by fire and loss,to pause once again,to contemplate life. Then realizing what is truly important; we hug more,argue less,give thanks easier,love unconditionally and look very forward to our next chance to help our neighbor.

In doing this we bring just a bit of 'good' to this horrible,horrible unspeakable loss. God bless and keep this family in their hour of need.

Richard Russell

So very sad to hear of this tragic loss of life, only about 4 miles from our house. May these neighbors that we never met rest in peace.


So sad. Please, everyone, check your smoke detectors!

jack langhals

Thanks !