Chief: Fire cause unknown
Either burning candles or a lit cigarette is believed to have caused the Sunday morning fire that killed five young children and a man.
Tiffin Fire Chief William Ennis said the cause of the fire at Highland Mobile Home Park officially has been ruled undetermined, although evidence of smoking as well as burning candles was found in the area of the fire’s origin. No evidence of criminal activity was found, he said.
“We’ll never be able to determine (the cause) exactly,” Ennis said.
The candles and an astray were found sitting next to each other in the trailer’s living room, Ennis said, where it is believed 25-year-old Timothy Fresch was sleeping. His girlfriend and mother of the children, Anna Angel, was at work when the fire broke out.
Ennis said that after the fire started, Fresch was awoken and he then attempted to get his 1-year-old son Domonic Fresch out of a bedroom.
“All indications are that he woke up and that he went to get his son,” Ennis said.
As he turned around to exit the bedroom, he was trapped by the fire, Ennis said.
Domonic, who was found by firefighters under a pile of clothing in the bedroom, had been placed there by Fresch in an attempt to protect him. Evidence at the scene also suggests Fresch had placed himself between Domonic and the fire. Fresch also had been found by firefighters in the bedroom, Ennis said.
Ennis said it appears Fresch, Dominic, 6-year-old Tiara M. Angel, 5-year-old Stormie A. Huey, 4-year-old Trinitie B. Huey, and 3-year-old Sunshine D. Huey, 3, died of smoke inhalation.
Ennis said the girls had been sleeping in a back bedroom when the fire broke out.
“They just couldn’t get out,” Ennis said about the family.
According to the release, firefighters had been dispatched to the trailer, at lot 28, at 7:54 a.m. A bystander at the scene told rescuers people were still inside, and that he had attempted to gain entry but was unable to due to the fire and heat conditions.
Ennis said smoke detectors were heard upon firefighters’ entry into the trailer.
Ennis said family members of Fresch and the girls were notified Friday of the results of the fire investigation.
“I really think that they’re just so numb right now,” he said. “They were sad but they’ve been through so much this week. We hope it brought closure to them.”
Ennis emphasized Friday parents need to teach children two ways out of a bedroom and that sleeping with the bedroom door closed helps keep fire and smoke from quickly penetrating a bedroom.
“In this case, the fire blocked their exit through the front door,” he said.
Ennis added candles should be in a proper holder and should not be left unattended.
According to the release, almost 1,000 smokers and non-smokers are killed in home fires caused by cigarettes and other smoking materials. In addition, 42 home candle fires are reported each day.