The Star Beacon; Ashtabula, Ohio

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February 18, 2013

Smoking in bed started fire in Conneaut duplex

CONNEAUT —  Smoking material is believed to be the cause of a fire that injured two Sandusky Street residents Sunday morning, firefighters said.

Pat Rarey, 56, and Francis Rarey, 64, both of 321 Sandusky St., suffered burns and smoke inhalation and were taken to UH Conneaut Medical Center for treatment, according to a fire report. The extent of their injuries was not immediately known.

Two other people in the unit of the duplex were not injured, while occupants of an adjoining unit were evacuated as a precaution, said Assistant Fire Chief Steve Sanford.

Firefighters were dispatched shortly before 5 a.m. in response to a call from one of the unit’s occupants. Firefighters from Station 1, the city’s first-out station, were on Interstate 90 dousing a vehicle fire at the time, but personnel from Station 3, along with firefighters who heard the alarm, rushed to the scene. The fire was quickly knocked down by responders, said Station 1 Capt. Tim Zee.

Upon arrival, firefighters found all four occupants still inside the unit, apparently trying to douse the fire, Sanford said. The injured people were on their feet and escorted to a vehicle, he said. The four had been sleeping and were alerted to the blaze by a smoke detector, Sanford said.

“Smoke detectors do save lives,” he said.

The fire began in bedding material in a second floor bedroom, leading investigators to believe smoking in bed was the cause. Fire damage was confined to the second floor and a portion of the attic, fire officials said. Damage to the duplex unit was estimated between $25,000 and $30,000, and another $10,000 to the contents, Sanford said.

The American Red Cross was contacted “for displaced occupants,” firefighters said.

Francis Wick of Conneaut was listed as the property in a fire report.

One hour earlier, firefighters were sent to the westbound lanes of I-90 for a fire that completely destroyed a 1999 sedan and its contents, according to a report. The driver and passengers were unhurt, firefighters said.

The sedan sustained “front and rear impact,” indicating a crash may have prompted the fire, reports show.

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