Flames devour a house at 107 W. Bancroft St. as Toledo fire-fighters try to keep it from spreading to an adjacent home. The blaze, reported at 12:58 p.m. Wednesday, is being investigated as an arson because the house had been vacant for two years.
Princess Matthews saw a home on West Bancroft Street burning and "just knew" it would spread next door.
What if, she thought, someone was inside and didn't know.
She did a U-turn on Bancroft and raced to the porch and started banging on the front door of 109 W. Bancroft. Joined by others, they pounded harder on the door once they heard screaming children.
"It's a fire, it's a fire," she recalled yelling Wednesday afternoon, as the fire raged on behind her.
Four children inside eventually came out of the house as the fire next door spread to their home.
Battalion Chief John Kaminski said one adult who also escaped was inside the home with the children; none were injured.
The fire at 107 W. Bancroft, only a block away from Toledo fire Station 7, was reported at 12:58 p.m.
Because the structure was unsecured and has been vacant for two years, the fire is being investigated as an arson, the battalion chief said.
The structure was a total loss and is expected to be demolished.
At 109 W. Bancroft, damage was estimated at $20,000.
The Red Cross responded to the scene to provide aid for the five occupants, spokesman Amanda Aldrich said.
When fire crews arrived, the fire at 107 was so intense, a command officer decided it was not safe for firefighters to go inside and a defensive attack was ordered and efforts were focused on minimizing damage to 109.
The property at 107 was built in 1907 and is owned by Stacey Simmons, of Toledo, according to the Lucas County Auditor's Web site.
The site also shows that unpaid property taxes total $4,012.03.