3 people killed in Wyandot County apartment fire

6 others escaped; one person was injured

Three people died in a fire that engulfed the Old Antique Store in Harpster, Ohio, early today.
Three people died in a fire that engulfed the Old Antique Store in Harpster, Ohio, early today.

HARPSTER, Ohio -- Three young adults were killed and another was injured in a fire today that broke out in one of two apartments above an antiques store in this southern Wyandot County village.

Zenan T. R. Wample, 18; James. L. Gatchell, 20; and Lauren A. Vinson, 19, were all found dead in their apartment at 7223 Wyandot St. after firefighters from 11 communities subdued the flames, an effort that required several hours.

Jasin C. Wample, 21, was transported to Wyandot Memorial Hospital and then transferred to Mercy St. Vincent Medical Center in Toledo for treatment of burns and possible injuries he suffered when he jumped out the window of the same apartment, where the fire is believed to have started, according to the Wyandot County Sheriff's Office.

Separate 911 calls came in about the fire above the Old Antique Store at 2:56 and 2:58 this morning, deputies said. The first came from a guest at the Wample apartment who had already fled the building and the second from a woman who, with her three children, was still inside.

Jessica Messmer's 11-year-old son had been awakened by a smoke detector and roused his mother and siblings. The 32-year-old and her children all escaped unharmed. Ms. Messmer's mother, Karen Anderson, owns the building.

Wyandot County Coroner Joseph Sberna initially ruled the three deaths to have been caused by smoke inhalation, but sent the three bodies to Lucas County for autopsies.

Firefighters from six departments in Wyandot County and two each from neighboring Marion and Crawford counties assisted the Pitt Township Fire Department at the scene.

The fire's cause remained under investigation late today, but authorities said the blaze did not appear to be suspicious. No damage estimate was released.

Harpster is 70 miles south of Toledo.