Nearly blind woman dies in Warren fire
Loan T. Vang, 75, died in a basement fire Wednesday at her house at 949 Columbia Place Southeast despite the efforts of the Warren Fire Department.
Firefighters received the call at 11:53 a.m. and were at the scene three minutes later, pulling her from the house at 12:01 p.m.
A smoke alarm was sounding, neighbors said. That smoke alarm was in place because the Warren Fire Department installed it in her house earlier through its SALSA (Save A Life Smoke Alarm) program.
The department initiated SALSA in the summer of 2012 after two devastating house fires killed 10 people in Warren, including six children. Neither home was equipped with a working smoke detector.
Vang, who was Vietnamese, lived alone in the two-story house off of Youngstown Road near Laird Avenue and got help from neighbors to keep her home in shape, said John Onatz, the Warren animal control officer, who knew her because of dog calls in the neighborhood.
Warren Fire Chief Ken Nussle said firefighters knew the home was probably occupied and entered the home soon after arriving.
It’s possible she heard the alarm and went to the basement to see what was wrong, Nussle said.
“We kept telling her she needed a cell phone and a medical alert,” next-door neighbor, Brooke Bowden. But she was 96 percent blind and couldn’t dial a typical cell phone, so she didn’t have one, Bowden said.
The State Fire Marshal’s Office is assisting with the investigation.