Space heaters may be cause of fire that killed Bristol woman

By Ed Runyan


The Bristol Township fire chief is reminding people to be careful with space heaters during winter after an early Wednesday house fire killed a 76-year-old woman.

Fire Chief Tom Dempsey said two electric space heaters were found in the small home, and it’s possible that something flammable came in contact with one of them.

The cause of the fire is still under investigation by the Ohio State Fire Marshal’s Office and Trumbull County Fire Investigative Unit.

Killed was Shirley Conley, who lived alone at 1838 Housel Craft Road, which is just north of Champion Township and just west of Mahoning Avenue.

Neighbors noticed the fire at 6:50 a.m. and called 911 while attempting to get inside to determine whether anyone was home and try a rescue, but the fire was too intense and they could not get in, Dempsey said.

Firefighters were alerted that the house might be occupied when they responded.

They found flames shooting through the roof and fought the fire with water, then found Conley inside near the back door.

It’s possible she was trying to escape and was overcome by smoke, Dempsey said.

Her body was removed by the Trumbull County Coroner’s office.

Dempsey said the fire makes him want to remind people to take extra precautions during cold times of the year.

“If you have an elderly neighbor, please check on them, and keep things away from space heaters,” the chief said.

A Warren fire at 678 Comstock St. NW Tuesday night also had a cold-weather component, said Warren Fire Chief Ken Nussle.

James Overly was trying to thaw pipes in a crawl space under the house when he ignited some wooden flooring above it.

Overly tried to extinguish the fire, but it got into a wall cavity and reached the attic, causing $20,000 worth of damage, much of it to the attic.

The fire department called out four additional firefighters to provide relief to the firefighters who were working on the blaze so they could dry out and thaw out when they got back to the fire station, Nussle said.

The temperature was around zero about 6:50 p.m., when the fire was reported.

One firefighter suffered a back injury while fighting the fire, but he did not require medical attention.

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