Arson suspected in several fires

Sean Joseph

Diane Frazee’s daughter’s friend holds up a cd case in what used to be the

daughter’s room as the family sorts through the burnt house. “We’re just glad she woke up,” said Gene Frazee when talking about his daughter and how the flames devoured their hom

Credit: Andrew popik

Police are investigating a possible connection between Monday morning’s Artemis Drive fire, which destroyed a two-story home, and three other fires that occurred around the same time in the same neighborhood.

The four fires occurred around 2 a.m. Monday on Athena, Artemis and Olympus drives in a neighborhood off of Summit Street, said Chief James Williams of the City of Kent Fire Department.

All but the Artemis Drive fire are being investigated as arson, while the cause of the Artemis Drive fire is yet unknown.

“We’re not sure of any connection between these fires,” Williams said. “The fact that they all occurred in the same time-frame and neighborhood leads us to believe that there may be a connection.”

The fire that occurred at 1659 Athena Drive was small, but looked strikingly similar to the fire at 1590 Artemis Drive, Williams said. Both fires started on the front porch of the homes while couples were sleeping inside.

The two other fires reported Monday morning were on a much smaller scale. Williams said the two were put out without assistance from the fire department and reported after the investigation of house fires began. One involved a bag on fire on the passenger seat of a car. The other was a burning pile of trash.

No information about the cause or investigation of the Artemis Drive fire was released yesterday, Williams said.

A suspicious house fire occurred Monday night in Rootstown and is also under investigation for arson, according to a press release from the Rootstown Fire Department. Damages are estimated to cost $50,000 to repair.

No link has been made between the fire that occurred in Rootstown to the fires in Kent.

No suspects have been named or charged for starting any of these fires, Williams said.

Heavy smoke trapped Gene Frazee, 59, in an upstairs bedroom of his burning home on Artemis Drive early Monday morning.

Gene Frazee was taken to Robinson Memorial Hospital to be treated for smoke inhalation. He was released from the hospital yesterday morning.

Frazee was still coughing, had a soar throat and burnt hair on the top of his head when he was released from the hospital, said his wife, Diane Frazee.

Ryan Pittman, sophomore computer science major and Frazees’ neighbor, brought a ladder to the window Gene Frazee was standing in during the blaze, Diane Frazee said. Pittman was about to go up to rescue Gene Frazee when the fire department showed up.

Pittman “was the one instrumental to saving my husband’s life,” Diane Frazee said. “If it wasn’t for him my husband wouldn’t be standing here with me today. We should have a Ryan Pittman day.”

The two-story house was completely destroyed Diane Frazee said. All of the belongings inside the home were incinerated and nothing was salvageable.

“If you could ever imagine in your mind what it’s like to be in hell, that’s what my house looks like,” Diane Frazee said. “When you look at the house you would not believe anyone survived.”

Four fires in the same area that night seemed suspicious but she had no idea what caused the fire, Diane Frazee said.

No serious burns or other injuries from any of the fires were reported, Williams said.

Anyone with information regarding any of these fires is asked to call the Kent Police Department at (330)297-7733.

Contact safety reporter Sean Joseph at [email protected].