Employees at a painting company
working nearby alerted the homeowner of the fire.
By DENISE DICK
VINDICATOR STAFF WRITER
BOARDMAN — Missie Smith spread family photo albums in the yard across the street from the charred remains of her house, trying to salvage the memories.
A fire Monday morning destroyed the house where Smith and her three sons lived.
Smith was alerted by two men who were staining a deck on Windel Way, which runs behind Tori Pines, and saw the blaze.
“We got the kids out, got the dogs out and got the cars out,” Smith said. “Everybody’s OK. That’s the most important thing.”
Jerry Jones and Mike Ciavarella, employees of Himes Painting Inc., Poland, said they heard a noise, turned around and saw flames.
“The whole back yard was engulfed,” Jones said.
Because of backyard fences, the two men had to run out onto Tippecanoe and then down Tori Pines to knock on Smith’s door. As they were running, they called 911.
It’s a good thing they’re both in decent shape, Ciavarella noted.
“We helped her get her kids out, and we helped her get the cars out of the driveway,” Jones said. “I guess we were just in the right place at the right time.”
The call came in about 10:18 a.m., and it took firefighters about an hour knock the fire down.
Cardinal called first
Boardman Fire Chief James Dorman said that firefighters from Cardinal Joint Fire District initially got the call. One side of Tippecanoe is in Canfield Township.
They started battling the blaze and notified Boardman’s department.
The fire is believed to have started on the back porch, moved up the stairs and into the roof.
A cause hasn’t been determined.
Eight upscale houses sit on Tori Pines, a cul-de-sac. Mahoning County property tax records indicate Smith’s house, valued at more than $269,000, was built in 1995.
Temperatures nearing 90 degrees meant extra caution. The department brought ice, bottled water and Gatorade to keep crews hydrated.
Dorman pointed to a mist machine that helps battle the heat.
Heat from the flames damaged the siding of the houses on either side.
Char marks surround most of the Smiths’ backyard while what used to be their back porch is mostly indistinguishable. Pieces of shingles litter the front and side yards, and the roof and second story were mostly destroyed.
“This is hard to see,” said Roman Smith, 16, Smith’s oldest son.
He was at work at Compco in Columbiana when he learned about the fire.
“At least nobody was hurt,” Roman said.
His mother and brothers, Bradford, 13, and Skyler, 6, were in the house.
Roman carried a wooden silhouette bearing Skyler’s picture in his Little League uniform. It was among the items firefighters saved from the smoke and flames.
“I asked them if they could get out any scrapbooks, photo albums or photographs,” Smith said, as she began to cry.
She opened several albums on her neighbor’s lawn, attempting to dry them out.
Firefighters handed those items out of the house to waiting family and friends.
Several 8-by-10 black and white baby photos remained on a wall in the house, visible from outside through a gouge left by the blaze.
Smith offered no theory about how the fire started. A hot tub and gas grill were in the backyard, but both were shut off, she said.
The American Red Cross was assisting the Smith family.