MOUNT VERNON — West Vine Street resident Cheryl Nethers said she was woken up immediately early Saturday morning when the voice on her police and fire scanner announced a house fire at a familiar address —the home of her daughter and grandson.
“I heard the address on the scanner and it brought me up out of a dead asleep,” Nethers said as she watched firefighters work to save the East Gambier Street house her daughter Karen Nethers rented from landlord William Spitzer of Mount Vernon.
Karen Nethers’ 11-year-old son, Trenton Bush, called 9-1-1 around 1:30 a.m. and told the dispatcher his house was on fire. While Bush was on the phone with the dispatcher, Karen grabbed her purse and the family dog and cat before fleeing from the home.
“They were asleep in the living room and the fire started nearby, I think in that room,” Cheryl said. “I was pretty shaken up when I heard it, so I ran right over. They were sitting in the car, in the back,” she said pointing at the rear of the property.
When firefighters arrived, there were flames coming from the west side of the house, according to MVFD Assistant Chief Chris Menapace.
“When the first company got there, fire was showing on the west and south sides of the house and all of the residents were out of the home,” Menapace said.
Two engines and the aerial ladder truck arrived from both MVFD stations. Mutual aid was requested from the College Township Fire Department. An engine company from [College Township Fire Department] arrived a few minutes later.
“We used an initial attack line on the west side for initial knock down,” Menapace said. “A team was sent to the second story to do a quick search.”
Fire crews were able to focus on attacking the fire once they confirmed everyone was out of the burning house, Menapace said. Even when residents report everyone has been accounted for, firefighters will usually do a quick search to be certain.
“When we get a report that everybody’s out, we can concentrate efforts on extinguishing the fire,” he said. “However it’s always in the back of your mind that someone could be in there until your team confirms the search.”
A hydrant around the corner on Ohio Avenue provided all of the water needed to fight the fire.
Because the early suppression was successful, the fire did not make it into the attic, and was contained to the first floor living quarters.
Menapace said the cause and origin of the fire remain under investigation. “The resident was sleeping on the couch in the living room and she awoke to the house full of smoke and heat,” Menapace said.
“The living room and porch were heavily damaged,” he said. No dollar amount has been determined for damages at this time.
Karen Nethers and her son, as well as Nethers’ cousin and her two children who had been staying in the home but were away when the fire started, will be staying with family. The Knox County Chapter of the American Red Cross provided the family with emergency assistance.
Menapace said MVFD investigators would be working this week to determine the cause of the fire. A report is expected by week’s end.
The assistant chief said there were no smoke detectors in the home.