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Survivor tried to rescue family members

Raymond Kralik who survived the fatal fire Friday morning at his Mineral Ridge, stands outside the scene of the tragedy just hours after learning his mother and grandfather had succumbed in the flames. Staff photo / Guy Vogrin

MINERAL RIDGE — Raymond Kralik could only lean up against his car, smoking a cigarette and staring at the remains of what was his lifelong home.

“I guess it all started about a week ago when my 12-year-old pit bull died,” Kralik said in a low monotone with tears in his eyes.

Now, his mother and grandfather were gone, victims of an early Friday blaze at 1465 Lincoln Ave., a block north of the Mahoning-Trumbull County line.

Autopsies of Russell Poling and Robin M. Kralik, 56, were being done Friday afternoon by Trumbull County Coroner Dr. Thomas James. Causes of death will probably be known Monday.

But it doesn’t matter to Kralik, who in addition to losing his loved ones now has the task of putting his life back together.

“Everything I owned was in that house, including my cellphone, which I left under the couch,” Kralik, 37, said as he waited around the noon hour for the fire marshal inspector to let him back inside. “I lived there my whole life.”

Kralik said he woke up early Friday — after 4 a.m. — to make some breakfast.

‘EVERYTHING LIT UP’

“I started boiling some oil to make some hash browns and then all of a sudden everything lit up in the kitchen,” Kralik said.

He called for his sister Kayla, who was outside sitting around a fire pit, to call 911.

According to audio of the 911 call she made reporting the fire: “Yes, it’s bad. My grandfather’s in the house and so is my mother. You know what, I’m gonna break the front window to get them out of here.”

Earlier, Kralik’s mom Robin made a brief call to 911, giving the address and saying that she was “stuck in here.” The call abruptly ended after Robin Kralik said the fire was coming from the kitchen.

Raymond Kralik said he ran to get the fire extinguisher and tried to put out the fire, but the flames were too high.

“There was some medicine and stuff above the stove and I wonder if something up there didn’t light everything up,” he said.

State fire inspectors will have a final report of the cause probably in a few days, according to a spokeswoman for the state fire marshal’s office.

As he tried to reach his family members trapped on the upper floor, Kralik said he fell through the first step of the stairwell.

‘IT WAS NO USE’

“It was no use,” he said as he then screamed their names, but no one answered.

Weathersfield fire Chief Tom Lambert said in house fires, the flames usually first find open spaces, such as stairways.

Kralik said his mother was usually a heavy sleeper.

“They told me they found my grandfather standing in the corner,” Kralik said, pointing to the boarded second-floor window in the rear of the home. “I’m sure he was trying to fight to stay alive.”

Lambert said first responders tried to resuscitate the two victims, but were not successful. They were taken to Trumbull Regional Medical Center, Lambert said, where they were pronounced dead.

Kralik said his grandfather had bought the two-story home in 1982.

gvogrin@tribtoday.com

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