Six area fire departments respond to blaze; investigation into cause continues today
Firefighters try to control a fire that started at 241 East College Ave. last night. According to reports no one was injured.
Daniel Owen | Daily Kent Stater
Credit: Ron Soltys
No one was hurt when a fire badly damaged an East College Avenue home last night.
Sgt. Sam Todd of the Kent Police Department said the cause of the fire at 241 E. College Ave. is unknown, and the investigation will continue today.
Todd said the house was significantly damaged from smoke and water from the firefighters putting out the fire. He said the residents made arrangements to stay somewhere else for the night.
As she cuddled with her dog, Baxter, in a blue Chevy truck in the driveway, Kelly Salser was on the verge of tears.
“We lost everything,” she said.
She recalled noticing smoke rising up through the vents.
“I was in the kitchen heating up a cup of coffee and smoke started to fill the room,” Salser said.
She then rushed upstairs, yelling to resident Kenny Shingleton and her boyfriend, Shingleton’s boss, Frank Elia, that there was a fire in the house.
“By the time I got back down, the smoke was waist-high, and the kitchen was black,” Salser said.
After hearing about the rising smoke, Shingleton went to the basement door to investigate.
“The heat about knocked me down,” he said.
Shingleton said everyone escaped the burning house without injury.
MIKE WIECLAW | DAILY KENT STATER
At about 8 p.m., Rachel Horner, a senior hospitality management major who lives a few houses down, said she could smell smoke coming through the walls.
“It smelled like someone lit a match,” she said.
During that time, Katie Ramunni, junior communications studies major, was in her living room when she saw flames coming out of the neighbors’ basement. The first to call 911, she said she was shocked to see the police arrive about a minute later.
More than 100 students, neighbors and residents surrounded the house as firefighters shattered windows and ripped a portion of the house away to vent the smoke and fire.
“I’ve seen more people out here than at a Kent State football game,” neighbor Kenny Davis, junior justice studies major, said.
Next door neighbor, Brian Wolfe, junior aeronautics major, said as he was upstairs in his home, he saw smoke and flames shoot out the left side of the house. The flames spread to the front of the house.
Ed Bargerstock, Kent City councilman for Ward 5, where the fire occurred, arrived at the scene about an hour after police arrived. He was joined by Beth Oswitch, the neighboring councilwoman for Ward 6.
“I feel bad,” Oswitch said. “(These residents) are certainly displaced, and I feel bad for the people next door. But it’s nice to see everyone working so well together. They (fire and police officials) know what to do and do it well.”
In addition to the Kent Fire Department, Ravenna, Ravenna Township, Stow, Rootstown and Streetsboro fire departments responded as well.
PHOTOS BY LESLIE CUSANO AND AMANDA SOWARDS