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Three die in Norwalk house fire

Cary Ashby • Jan 26, 2018 at 10:30 PM

A family of three lost their lives in an early morning house fire Friday at 8 Park Ridge Court.

The victims have been identified as 65-year-old Robert Griggs, his 57-year-old wife Rebecca and their 27-year-old son James. Their bodies were sent to Lucas County for autopsies.

“Obviously our hearts go out to the family and the extended family. We never like to see something like this happen in our community,” Norwalk Mayor Rob Duncan said.

Seventeen members of the Norwalk Fire Department received mutual aid from the Huron River Joint Fire District, Milan Township Volunteer Fire Department, North Central EMS and the state fire marshal’s office. The Norwalk Police Department also was at the scene.

“We are thankful for the job they do, putting their lives on the line daily,” Norwalk Mayor Rob Duncan said. “I’ve been here 25 years and I can’t remember a triple fatality.”

Police Chief Dave Light called the fatal fire “just a terrible tragedy.”

“Our prayers are with the family. This is just horrible — a hard thing to accept. You lose three people in something like that,” he said.

Kelly Spincer, spokeswoman for the state fire marshal’s office, said “all the victims were found in the upper floor in the house.”

While the cause is “still undeterimined at this point,” Spincer said it’s not considered a suspicious fire.

Four state fire marshal’s investigators processed the scene with the Norwalk fire and police departments. One investigator had a Labrador, which is an accelerant detection canine. 

“When there are significant fatalities, they will always be there,” Spincer said, referring to the trained dogs.

“We offer the family our condolences,” said fire Chief John Soisson, who added the three victims were dead upon arrival.

The 9-1-1 call came in at 3:19 a.m.

“It came from a neighbor who evidently saw the house on fire,” Soisson said. “When we arrived on the scene, the entire right side was fully engulfed. Flames were well above the roof line.

“We sent a search team up to the bedrooms to search for the victims while we were fighting the fire,” Soisson said. “I’m gonna guess it was 20 minutes before we got it under control.”

A neighbor of the victims said she called the couple’s son to let them know his parents’ house was on fire. After the son arrived, a chaplain at the scene helped break the news to him. The neighbor also said there was a therapy dog in the house that also died.

The split-level home on Park Ridge Court is off Valley Park Drive.

“I’m sure the house is a total loss,” Soisson said. “The fire originated in the first floor.”

While there was significant smoke and water damage throughout the house, the chief said the fire was contained to the living room and kitchen, which is on the right side of the residence.

The area was gutted and exposed to the elements as investigators and firefighters processed the scene. An investigator with the state fire marshal’s office used a accelerant detection dog to explore the wreckage of the living room and kitchen area.

Police Detective Sgt. Seth Fry had been at the scene for nearly four hours as of 9 a.m. Friday. He later said while authorities have determined where the fire started, they “are not 100 percent sure” what the cause is, but there is no indication of foul play.

“We extend our condolences to the family,” the detective added.

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