UPDATE | Fire that killed 5 appears accidental


YOUNGSTOWN — A fire that killed five children late Sunday was accidental, said city Fire Investigator Capt. Kurt Wright.

Fatal Youngstown Fire

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Five people died in a Youngstown house fire early today.

The fire at 434 Parkcliffe Ave. started on the first floor, Wright said.

Wright also said the mother of the five children is hospitalized after she managed to get out of the home after it caught fire about 11:30 p.m Sunday.

Wright would not comment on where the children were found.

He said he did not want to comment on a cause until tests are completed by the state fire marshals office, which is assisting in the investigation, but at this point it appears to not be suspicious, he said.

Five children, ages 9, 3, 2 and two 1-year-old twins, were killed in the blaze.

Wright and members of the state fire marshals office just arrived to begin their investigation.

A neighbor called 911 and alerted authorities about the fire. The mother reportedly jumped out of a window and told firefighters at the scene that five children were still inside the burning home.

Deborah Rivera, a neighbor across the street, said she was awakened by a boom and called 911.

The mother was in a vacant lot next to the house in nothing but her underwear, Rivera said.

Her boyfriend, Justin Viera, said flames were shooting out of the first floor windows.

"It was blazing," Rivera said.

Firefighters were able to get three of the five children out of the structure. Those children were given CPR and they – along with their mother – were taken to St. Elizabeth Youngstown Hospital.

Melissa Thomas does not even know the victims, but she stopped with her daughters Elissa and Marissa Simione to drop off stuffed animals in honor of them.

"I got two kids," she said. "I can't imagine five."

Rev. Lewis Macklin, a police chaplain, said he will be meeting today with city Councilwoman Anita Davis, D-6th, and others, to plan ways to raise funds for the family.

He said he hopes a plan can be put together soon to help them out.

Davis, whose ward includes Parkcliffe, went to the scene of the fire after hearing the news about it.

She said it was a tragedy that five young children died in the fire.

"I hope the young lady [the mother] has family around her that will embrace her and hold her and love her and give her the support she needs," Davis said.

Also on the scene is Bob Sharp, a former city fire investigator who now works for the state fire marshal's office. Wright said there were working smoke detectors in the home and they were going off when fire crews arrived.

The fire is the most deadly in Youngstown since a Jan. 23, 2008, arson at 1645 Stewart Ave. that claimed the lives of two adults and four children. Five people were able to escape that blaze.

That fire, unlike the late Sunday one, was intentionally set with an accelerant poured on the front porch. The motive for that fire was a dispute over a cell phone.

The 1,300-square-foot house in the Newport neighborhood of the South Side was a two-story ranch with three bedrooms. The single-family house was built in 1924 and was last sold for $10,000 in September 2013, according to zillow.com.

The owners of the house are Lindsey Maggie and Lindsey Henry of Campbell, according to the Mahoning County auditor's website.The house's value was $7,930, according to the website.

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