'Working smoke detector' wakes sleeping man in house fire

Cary Ashby • Mar 27, 2018 at 2:00 AM

MONROEVILLE — The South Ridge Street home of Jim and Gina Bond is nearly a total loss, but it could have been a lot uglier.

“A working smoke detector is what got him out of there alive,” said Chief Curt Stang, of the Huron River Joint Fire District. “He was sleeping and heard the smoke detector.”

Jim Bond, who retired from the Monroeville Police Department in September, was the only person home when the fire started early Saturday. 

“According to him, he thought it was his alarm (clock),” said Stang, who was told Bond repeatedly hit his “snooze” button until he woke up enough to realize the sound he heard was the smoke detector.

“Visibility was poor when he came downstairs,” the fire chief added.

Bond and his wife have two children.

“One was at a friend’s house and one was at his or her dad’s,” Stang said.

Gina Hupp Bond, who was at work when the fire started, expressed her appreciation on Facebook.

“(I) want to thank everyone for your support. Thank you to everyone that has dropped off clothes & things. Thank you to all the firemen. Thank you to the best neighbors on the planet for everything. Thank God for our smoke detectors that woke up my husband & saved his life. Thank God our kids were all not home & I was at work. My kids have not been told yet as I am still in shock & heart broken for them. Thank God for our guardian angels watching over us & we are all safe. We are devastated & I’m at a loss for words,” she said in her post.

The Huron River crew was called at 3:14 a.m. Saturday and arrived at 18 S. Ridge St., Monroeville, eight minutes later.

Firefighter Bobby Holm was on the first truck to arrive. He said he saw light smoke throughout the house, but there were flames and smoke showing from the southeast corner.

Firefighters extinguished the blaze in the kitchen first, according to the report, and then proceeded upstairs, where the flames had spread and into the attic area “through void spaces due to remodels and balloon framing.”

Stang said battling the blaze was quite a process. The report indicates the fire wasn’t fully under control until 5:25 a.m. — more than two hours after firefighters first arrived. The last crew member left the scene at 6:50.

“The main part of the fire was knocked down pretty quickly, but it was just chasing it through the rest of the house,” Stang said. “We think it started in the kitchen area.”

Jim Bond told firefighters there were no previous problems in the kitchen.

Due to the amount of damage and destruction, the chief said firefighters can’t pin down the point of origin. Investigators with the state fire marshal’s office responded to the house Monday.

In an upstairs bathroom, which is above the kitchen, Stang said there was fire coming through the back of the shower. 

“We had to open it all to make sure it was extinguished,” he added.

Since it is an older house, the chief said there was not enough insulation to stop the flames from spreading.

“It had free reign,” Stang said.

The Huron River crew received mutual aid from the Norwalk Fire Department, which meant 30 firefighters and seven trucks were at the scene. Norwalk firefighters were dispatched at 3:15 a.m. and left at 5:30.

Stang said his crew needed assistance and more manpower because of the time and effort it took to fight the blaze.

One Huron River firefighter was transported to Fisher-Titus Medical Center.

“Exhaustion I think was the biggest thing; that’s what they told him at the hospital,” Stang said.

The chief said there was heavy fire damage downstairs, heavy smoke damage throughout the house and upstairs, “we had to open it up to really get to the fire.”

Firefighters initially estimated the property loss was $75,000 and the damage to contents was $60,000 — nearly a total loss for everything.

Stang was asked if the house can be lived in again.

“Absolutely not. No chance,” the chief said. “It was insured.”

Bond informed firefighters they had family they could stay with, but Stang said the family’s exact living circumstances are unknown.

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