Neighbor: Sylvania fire victims had no electricity

Report by Tanieya Lewis - email | bio
Posted by LS

SYLVANIA TOWNSHIP (WTOL) - The cold weather may be to blame for a fire that claimed two lives and sent two others to the hospital.

A house fire broke out Thursday night, December 10 around 9:30 in the 2500 block of Centennial.

A charred shell is now what used to be the Rickey household. There, Amy Shirk checked on her elderly neighbors at least twice a week. "They were good people. They kept to themselves and just tried to do the best they could with what they had," she says.

Holding back tears, Shirk relives the night before when fire ripped through their home. She says it was around 9 when she heard frantic knocks on her back door. It was their daughter, Jodi Rickey, saying dad started a fire.

"We didn't even recognize her. Her hair was singed. When she came into the back door, she was as black as your scarf," Shirk tells News 11's Tanieya Lewis.

Shirk called 911. She says within three minutes emergency crews were there. They were able to save Jodi Rickey's dad.

"He was trying to light the heating unit," says Sylvania Township Deputy Chief Thomas Eisel, "and apparently that's what caused the fire."

Eisel believes the fire was likely the tragic result of a man trying to keep his family warm. The home had no central heating, only space heaters and the built-in fuel oil heater.

Shirk says the dangerous system was all her neighbors could afford. "They didn't have much. They kept to themselves. As I understand, they didn't have electricity."

Now investigators search the rubble. "Could it have been prevented? We don't know," says Eisel, "But hopefully, we'll find out."

Shirk says she loses sleep as she asks herself if there was more she could do to help her neighbors.