Two escape fire

DUNHAM TWP. – Two people escaped without serious injury from a home that became engulfed in flames Thursday morning.

Firefighters from the Dunham, Belpre and Little Hocking volunteer fire departments responded to the blaze that rendered the house at 795 Joe Skinner Road a total loss. It is not considered suspicious in nature, although a cause has not yet been determined, Dunham Fire Chief Ernie Hoschar said.

The fire was reported around 7:19 a.m. by Dane Ritchie, who owns the house and lives next door.

“I heard a pop, and I (saw) a puff of smoke go by that window,” Ritchie said from the porch of his house as firefighters worked to douse hot spots on the two-story structure next door.

He looked outside and saw flames coming from a window near the electrical box.

“I knew immediately there wasn’t no getting no extinguisher,” he said.

Ritchie called 911 and ran outside, barefoot, trying to see if anyone was still in the house. Soon, he heard a noise that turned out to be one of the residents, a man in his late teens or early 20s, kicking an air-conditioning unit out of a second-story window.

Ritchie said the man appeared to have been singed by flames and appeared dazed. He went to the edge of the roof and hung from the eave before dropping down, about 12 feet.

“I had to catch him. And another guy who stopped in a truck helped me,” Ritchie said.

The men helped the younger man over to Ritchie’s porch, where first responders tended to him and eventually took him to Camden Clark Medical Center’s Memorial Campus, where he was treated and released.

Hoschar said another individual escaped the house unharmed, but he declined to release the names of those involved.

By the time firefighters arrived on the scene, the flames had spread throughout the house, Hoschar said.

“Structure was pretty much fully involved, fire out (the) windows, both floors,” he said. “Probably 30 minutes we had a majority of it under control, but we had some issues in the attic.”

Flames were between layers of drywall and lath, making them harder to reach. Eventually, a portion of the second floor collapsed onto the first.

Firefighters were still dousing hot spots around 9 a.m.

Hoschar said the fire appears to have been electrical in nature, since it started near the breaker box. However, he said he planned to contact the Ohio State Fire Marshal’s Office for further investigation.

The Washington County Chapter of the American Red Cross was contacted and is assisting the family.