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Published: Thursday, 6/28/2007

2 in critical condition after apartment fire in Carey

BY MAGGIE REID
BLADE STAFF WRITER

Rob Rice said he worked on fire rescue squads for over 20 years, but still wasn't prepared to see his daughter's condition after surviving a fire Tuesday in her apartment in Carey, Ohio.

"She was a beautiful woman," he said yesterday. "And now she's scarred for life because of circumstances beyond her control."

Rachelle Rice, 23, and her roommate, DaShelle Lynch, 21, were in their second-story apartment when a fire broke out in the two-story brick building.

While the women were hanging out their window screaming for help, Ken Shepherd of Alvada, Ohio, used his dump truck to climb up and rescue them.

The women were flown to St. Vincent Mercy Medical Center, where they were in critical condition last night.

Ms. Rice suffered third-degree burns over 62 percent of her body and Ms. Lynch, over 67 percent of her body.

"My daughter is in very critical condition," Darlene Lynch said. "She's my baby. I don't want to see my own daughter like this."

The families have been at the hospital since the fire and have not had an opportunity to speak with Mr. Shepherd.

He pulled his truck up to the building, raised the truck bed, and climbed up to the window.

The parents said they are grateful to Mr. Shepherd, adding that their daughters would not be here today if it were not for his action. "I'm very thankful to the man who stopped to help these girls out," Mrs. Lynch said. "I feel God sent him."

The two women moved into the apartment building at Vance and South streets only three weeks ago. Neither has health insurance, the families said, and are no longer covered by their parents' policies.

Mr. Rice, in an interview at the hospital, said he has no idea how they're going to pay for the extensive health care needed to keep the women alive.

He said St. Vincent's care has been wonderful, but that his daughter is going to be recovering for the rest of her life.

"They're going to need expensive help for years to come," Mr. Rice said.

Mr. Rice and Wayne Lynch believed that the building was not properly equipped for a fire, and said that landlords should be held more accountable for the types of accommodations they provide.

The fathers said they should never have allowed their daughters to live there.

Gerald Robinson, Ohio's chief deputy fire marshal, said the cause of the blaze was still under investigation yesterday, but that the building did have an external fire escape from the second floor and smoke detectors in every apartment, although he did not know if they were all functioning.

Crews are working to demolish remnants of the building.

Contact Maggie Reid at:

mreid@theblade.com or

419-724-6050.



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