Saturday, April 18, 2009


Elyria - Two people are dead tonight after a basement fire swept through their home in the 300 block of Hawthorne Ave - just south of Poplar Street.

Chuck Kennedy lives right across the street from the home and had been outside in his back yard Friday night with friends when they smelled smoke. "I got up to go into the garage for something and when I came out I looked across the street and I could see black smoke billowing out of the chimney. That just didn't look right so me and my buddy walked over to check it out then we could see black smoke pouring from from vents on the side of the house."

As Kennedy and his friend got closer to the house they could see the glow from the fire through the windows. It was then that they began pounding on windows and doors. "I went to the side door and opened the screen door first, then when I opened the wooden door it was being met with resistance and we later found out that it was the wife that was lying there inside the door.With the amount of thick smoke that was pouring from the door, we just couldn't see anything. As much as we wanted to go inside and try to help the people, we were afraid that we might be taken by the smoke."

The pair continued to pound on the windows and with no responses they began alerting the neighbors on either side just in case the fire might spread to their homes.

Kennedy said that when Firefighters arrived they laid some hoses and broke out windows quickly. "The Firemen went inside the home and they came running out with her to the ambulance but we could tell that she was limp and then the ambulance never rushed away so we knew that was bad. Then a few minutes later they brought the husband out and they had him covered in a sheet and placed him in the yard."

Kennedy, who has lived on Hawthorne for 13 years, said that the couple were quiet but would always say hello. "He is the one you would see all the time, she was confined to a wheelchair so we would rarely see her outside, it was always him and again he was very nice - just quiet."

Mark Bally lives just 5 doors down and echoed Kennedy that they were a quiet couple but very nice and polite. "He was very nice, mostly minded his own business but whenever he would see you in the neighborhood he would always say hi and wave."
Bally had been in his back yard Friday evening with a small burner going, he says he finshed up and went back inside of his home around 10. "Then later I was inside the house working on my computer and I heard a noise so I came out to see what happened and that's when I noticed the haze in the street lights and I could still smell smoke but just couldn't find anything so I went back inside the house. Then about 10 minutes later that's when I heard the fire trucks pulling up and that was right about midnight."
Jennifer Gerhart lives a couple houses away and said that she watched as the Firemen brought the couple out of the house. "A bunch of the neighbors were outside watching, it was a terribly sad sight, a very tragic loss. They were nice people and this is horrible thing that happened here tonight."
The Fire Department remains on scene at this hour (3:25 a.m.) along with Columbia Gas who are attempting to shut off the gas to the home. Fire Chief Richard Benton also responded to the scene where he also remains at this hour.
TMC NEWS will bring you more details as they become available.


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