Monroe Twp. fire ruled an accident


MONROE — Officials have ruled a house fire that forced two brothers out on the roof of a Monroe Township home before they were rescued was an accident, but the cause of the blaze has not been determined.

Monroe Township Fire Inspector Calvin Schmitt said two brothers, Bill Clapp, 26, and Joshua Justice, 21, were in the home on 822 Mulhollen Dr. when the fire started about 5 a.m. Thursday. The older brother, Mr. Clapp, saved his younger brother’s life, said Mr. Schmitt, who is also a lieutenant on the Monroe Township Fire Department.

The brothers on Friday remained in Toledo Hospital and both were listed in good condition, said a hospital spokesman.

Mr. Clapp was sleeping on the living room couch when the fire broke out. He reportedly rushed upstairs through the smoke and found his brother unresponsive in a second-floor room. He then took Mr. Justice to a window and pulled him onto the roof of a breezeway that is between the house and the garage, Lieutenant Schmitt said.

While the two men were on the roof, their mother’s boyfriend, James Harris, ran across the street to get help from Lieutenant Schmitt, who happened to be their neighbor.

“My wife unlocked the door, and I was just coming down the stairs. He said, ‘My house is on fire, will you call 911?’ ” said Lieutenant Schmitt. Mr. Harris then went back across the street, climbed up and grabbed the eaves trough and pulled himself on the roof in time assist Mr. Clapp in pulling the unconscious Mr. Justice through the window, the lieutenant said.

The men’s mother, Tammy Clapp, watched the entire ordeal from the front lawn, Lieutenant Schmitt said.

“When I went to the house, there was no visible flame, but smoke was coming out of the second-floor window and coming out of the chimney and it was laying really low. It looked like a thick fog,” he said. “I was gagging. It just took your breath away.”

With the help of other neighbors, Lieutenant Schmitt hauled his ladder across the street and carried Mr. Justice down while the other two came down on their own.

Mr. Harris and Ms. Clapp were both treated at and released from Toledo Hospital. The cause of the fire remained under investigation.

— Marlene Harris-Taylor