YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio (WKBN) – Youngstown fire investigators think a Youngstown homeowner found an unusual way to provide electricity to his house, but the idea may have destroyed not only the homeowner’s house but the one next door, too.
Investigators say electrical wiring sparked the fire that spread to two houses on Youngstown’s south side early Wednesday morning.
It happened on Marion Avenue around 1:30 a.m.
As fire investigators walked through what was left of the house on West Marion, they already had a pretty good idea of the cause.
“It definitely started on the outside of the house, and it appears to be electrical in nature,” said Captain Kurt Wright of the Youngstown Fire Department.
Wright, an arson investigator, says the flames quickly spread to the vacant house next door and burned through the roof.
Investigators say the owner of one of the home had electrical wiring running between his house and the one next door, which was vacant.
The fire started in his house while a woman was inside. She was awakened by the smoke but couldn’t get downstairs to the front door.
She climbed out of the window and onto the roof of the front porch to escape. She was taken to the hospital for smoke inhalation.
“She had to escape out onto the porch roof and fortunately the response time allowed the fire department to get here quickly and to rescue her off of the roof,” Wright said.
A firefighter was also taken to the hospital with a hurt ankle, but he’s expected to be okay.
Investigators say, even though the house where the fire started didn’t have an electrical meter, it was still getting power.
“One of the things that I noticed was some extension cords running from the neighbor’s house that is being renovated or was being renovated,” Wright said.
The vacant house was raided back in May by agents with Animal Charity and the county Dog Warden who seized a number of dogs and cats that were living in deplorable conditions At that time, investigators said they would be looking for the owner of the property.
Ironically, the house where the fire started this morning had been purchased just a few weeks ago.
At this point, it appears both houses are total losses and may have to be demolished.