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Published: Thursday, 11/29/2012 - Updated: 1 year ago

Officials gather to assess fatal fire, aftermath

BY VANESSA McCRAY
BLADE STAFF WRITER

REPUBLIC, Ohio — A day after the bodies of five family members were recovered from the rubble of a Seneca County house fire, the firefighters and others who responded to the fatal fire gathered.

Wednesday night’s scheduled debriefing was a chance to walk through the steps taken to respond to and fight the fire, which officials continue to investigate, said Seneca County spokesman Dean Henry. The informal meeting was also an opportunity to check in with firefighters, many of whom knew the family, and to see if any responders should be referred for counseling, he said.

RELATED: Truck driver's 911 call to report fire

The early Tuesday morning blaze destroyed the house at 13843 Township Rd. 124 in Reed Township. The bodies of two adults and three children were found in the charred rubble. The victims were tentatively identified as Joseph D. Hamilton, age unavailable; his wife, Holly R. Hamilton, 31; her daughter, Olivia Bondy, 11; and the couple’s two sons, Jaxon Hamilton, 8, and Linkin Hamilton, 6.

Officials had no information Wednesday on how or where the deadly fire started or the cause of the deaths and could not say when the investigation might be completed. Seneca County Sheriff Bill Eckelberry said his office is awaiting reports from the Lucas County Coroner and the State Fire Marshal’s Office.

“At this time we don’t think there’s anything suspicious,” he said, but added that with “a loss of five lives” investigators want to check everything.

Four people from the state fire marshal’s office spent Tuesday at the scene, a response that spokesman Matt Mullins said isn’t typical but “is required on occasion when there’s an incident such as this one.”

The Lucas County coroner’s office, which is performing the autopsies, referred questions to Seneca County. Seneca County Coroner Mark Akers said autopsies were performed on the two adult’s bodies Wednesday, and the children’s autopsies are scheduled for today. He said a positive identification has not been made on either adult, a step he said will likely require DNA testing or dental identification.

Officials said the fire was reported about 3:18 a.m. Tuesday by a truck driver traveling on another road. The caller told the 911 operator the house was “just about completely engulfed at this point,” according to a recording of the call provided by the sheriff’s office.

Upon arrival, firefighters found the wood-frame farmhouse fully involved, officials said.

Contact Vanessa McCray at: vmccray@theblade.com or 419-724-6065.


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