Norwalk teen, 20 pets killed in house fire

Cary Ashby • Jul 5, 2019 at 10:00 PM

A local teen and 20 of his pets were killed in a house fire early Wednesday morning.

Norwalk firefighters, police officers and North Central EMS responded to 29 Walnut St. shortly after 4 a.m.

The victim has been identified as Devin Spooner, 19. He was inside the house at the time of the fire, Huron County Coroner Dr. Jeff Harwood said.

Spooner made the 9-1-1 call and was still on the phone with a dispatcher when the teen stopped talking, Harwood said.

Without providing any names, safety-service director Ellen Heinz said an unresponsive occupant was found in the house and and “transported by ambulance to Fisher-Titus Medical Center.”

“One firefighter was transported to Fisher-Titus with a minor injury and was released,” she added. The identity of the firefighter, who reportedly suffered second-degree burns, was not released.

It is believed the cause of the fire was accidental, possibly involving a cooking incident or wood burner, according to Harwood and other authorities.

Olivia Vargas, who lived in the neighborhood for seven to eight years, said the residents of 29 Walnut St. are Dennis Spooner and his son, Devin. 

“They have been there as long as I can remember,” added Vargas, who has been taking care of a pet for a neighbor of the Spooners.

Norwalk firefighters were notified at 4:18 a.m. and arrived at 4:24 a.m. By 4:50 p.m., the fire was under control.

Vargas, whose mother notified her about the fire, arrived in the neighborhood just after 5 a.m. She said she checked on the house where she was pet-sitting and there was no damage, but she saw flames coming from the back corner of the Spooner residence.

Devin Spooner’s parents arrived at the house after the firefighters left the scene. By about 9 a.m. the crew was rolling up hoses. The last firefighter left at 10:10 a.m.

“They were crying; they were pretty messed up,” Vargas said, referring to the parents. “There were no emergency vehicles when they were there.”

A neighbor who only wanted to be identified as Pamela said when she woke up, she “heard him (Spooner) pounding” from inside the house. It was just after 4 a.m. when she looked outside and saw smoke coming from the nearby house. The woman also said she saw a male who appeared to be limp and unresponsive.

“We both cried,” she said, referring to herself and her adult son.

Vargas, who is studying at the EHOVE Career Center fire academy, said house fires generally are very loud and it’s possible the neighbor heard things falling inside the residence.

Twenty of the family’s pets were killed in the blaze, which caused $61,400 worth of damage to the structure and an additional $10,000 in damage to its contents, according to the fire report.

“There were four dogs and 14 cats for them,” she said, referring to the Spooners. “When they (the firefighters) opened the door, there was a cat, but it was already dead. The dogs were kept in a crate in the living room and when I got there, there was no barking. … They usually barked.”

Fire Chief John Soisson has been off work since mid June after experiencing what Heinz called “a major life event.” No further details about Soisson’s situation have been released to the public.

Norwalk Fire Capt. Rick Perry is the department’s executive officer and part of the “shared leadership” team operating in Soisson’s absence. Perry declined to be interviewed at the scene and directed all questions to Heinz.

“Our police officers, firefighters and first responders responded immediately to the call. Our firefighters acted swiftly to secure and control the scene. They used every measure possible for rescue and to extinguish the fire,” Heinz said, using a prepared statement. “We are very thankful for the responsive and quick action of our entire team to contain the fire.”

Authorities called in the fire marshal’s office, which the safety-service director said is part of the normal procedures. Heinz also said the incident is under investigation by firefighters and state fire marshal.

Heinz said more details will be released after the fire marshal concludes his investigation.

Detective Sgt. Dave Daniels and Detective Zack O’Neil were at the scene. When asked about their responsibilities, Heinz said they were there to “review the scene” and support the firefighters. 

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