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Body found in rubble of house fire in Youngstown

YOUNGSTOWN — Firefighters found the body of a person on the first floor while fighting a fire late Thursday at a home at 116 Oklahoma Ave.

Oklahoma Avenue is just south of downtown and just west of Interstate 680.

Firefighters responded to the 11:13 p.m. fire and were faced with a fully involved blaze at the two-story home. Crews began to fight the fire on the inside, including a search and rescue of occupants.

The owner of the home arrived and informed fire department battalion chiefs that the home was occupied, according to a news release from Youngstown fire investigator Kurt Wright.

Firefighters discovered that the entire second floor had collapsed onto the first floor, making interior operations very difficult. Firefighters found the victim, and the Mahoning County Coroner’s Office was notified.

The coroner’s office is investigating the cause of death. Wright said the cause of the fire is undetermined as the investigation continues.

Because of the severity of damage to the structure, as well as difficult overhaul operations, the Youngstown Street Department was requested for demolition. The fire department left the scene at 4:24 a.m., Wright stated.

Jon Racco, Youngstown Professional Fire Fighters IAFF Local 312, said in a statement after the fatal fire: “Unfortunately, the city had closed Engine 2 for the shift, which would have been the first arriving engine company at this fire. Crews were required to respond from other areas of the city to assist at this incredibly labor intensive and unfortunate incident.”

Racco said on Oklahoma Avenue, American Medical Response, the city’s EMS provider, did not provide an ambulance “for the victim or to stand by for our members, who were working under incredibly dangerous conditions to locate him. The situation is unacceptable and Youngstown deserves better.”

A message seeking comment from AMR officials was left Friday afternoon on a voicemail for the company’s main office.

The city firefighters have in the past proposed Youngstown starting its own ambulance service, although the city administration has cited cost as a factor.

AMR is seeking an annual subsidy from Youngstown of $1.8 million to $2.6 million to continue to provide ambulance service to the city or the company will pull out.

AMR’s contract with the city, in which Youngstown doesn’t pay any subsidy, expires Dec. 31.

AMR had said that without an annual subsidy of at least $750,000 it would be forced to close its Youngstown operations.

news@vindy.com

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