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Suspicious House Fire Kills 4 Children in Ohio

July 15, 2002|From Associated Press

TOLEDO, Ohio — A fire swept through a house on the city's east side early Sunday, killing four children ages 3 to 17, authorities said.

The cause of the fire had not been determined, but it was suspicious, said Sgt. Tim Noble, a police investigator. He said the deaths were being treated as homicides.

Little of the house was left standing aside from parts of the outside walls. Firefighters and investigators used rakes and shovels to sift ashes on the front porch, trying to locate the fire's origin.

"It sure seems like it went up in a hurry," Noble said.

The home's owner had escaped after the blaze started and put a ladder up to a second-floor window, but the flames prevented him from getting closer to the house, said neighbor Sarah Palichuk.

"All I could hear was screaming," said Palichuk, who lives across the street in this working-class neighborhood. "There was no way nobody could get out. I just wish there was more I could have done."

Fire Chief Mike Bell said he didn't know whether the children who died were related to each other or to the home's owner.

Neighbor Debbie Koepfler said she rushed out of her home after the noise from the fire woke her. "We just couldn't help them," she said. "We couldn't even get in the street because it was too hot."

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