Five people were killed after a fire broke out at their TR 124 house early Tuesday morning.
Dean Henry, public information officer for Seneca County, said the fire, reported at 3:17 a.m. at 13843 TR 124, claimed the lives of two adults and three children, ages 6, 8 and 12.
Henry said the fire was reported to the Seneca County Sheriff's Office by a truck driver who saw smoke and flames, and when firefighters arrived to the two-story residence, it was engulfed in flames.
PHOTO BY ERIKA PLATT-HANDRU
Firefighters work at the scene of a house fire on TR 124 Tuesday afternoon. The fire, reported at 3:17 a.m. by a passerby, claimed the lives of five people and caused the two-story house to collapse into the basement.
Firefighters from Attica-Venice-Reed, Republic, Huron River, Bellevue and Monroeville battled the fire, which took two hours to control, Henry said. Many firefighters spent Tuesday morning and part of the afternoon searching for the bodies of the family.
At 2 p.m., the last body had been recovered. Henry said the bodies have been sent to the Lucas County Coroner to be identified. Names of the victims have not yet been officially released. (See accompanying article.)
According to reports from the Seneca County Sheriff's Office, the homeowners are listed as Joseph and Holly Hamilton.
Debbie Jenkins, a former resident of the house, said she was devastated when she heard about the fire.
Jenkins' grandmother had owned the five-bedroom, two-bathroom house prior to the Hamiltons purchasing it in 2004.
She said she visited the house after Joseph Hamilton began remodeling it.
"He had completely remodeled the house," she said. "The house was amazing. It was beautiful on the inside."
Jenkins described Hamilton as very nice and said he did all of the remodeling himself.
"He was quite the handyman," she said.
Jenkins' grandmother, Rosalee Kiesel, said she lived in the house from 1975 until 2003.
"I have sympathy for the family," she said.
Kiesel said because the house didn't have many doors, her family had placed smoke detectors throughout it."I don't know if they kept it up or replaced them," she said.
Henry said it is not known whether smoke detectors were installed in the house at the time of the fire. He urged everyone to check the batteries in their smoke detectors or purchase one if none are currently in their residence.
"Particularly this time of year, it's important to have smoke detectors," he said.
Henry said the cause and origin of the fire remains under investigation.
Lyn Polan, spokeswoman for the Ohio Department of Commerce, said the investigation is being handled by the State Fire Marshal, Attica-Venice-Reed Fire Department, the Seneca County Sheriff's Office and the coroner.
"Because of the extent of fire, that can take some time," Polan said.
Henry said others assisting at the scene Tuesday included the Seneca County Chaplain Corps, the Seneca County Sheriff's Office and Seneca County Engineer's Office.