Group Home Fire in Ohio Kills Two

A fire Wednesday afternoon in a group home for the mentally disabled killed one of the two residents and their caregiver, a fire official said.

A second resident who survived, a 31-year-old man, appeared to have a started the fire by lighting clothing with a cigarette lighter in a closet in front of the house, said Doug Smith, a battalion fire chief. He said the fire, reported about 4 p.m., would have blocked the three from getting out the front door.

A 29-year-old resident of the house was pronounced dead at the scene. The 62-year-old caretaker, a female, was pronounced dead at Mount Carmel West Hospital, Smith said.

The 31-year-old man was taken to the burn unit at the Ohio State University Medical Center.

Both men lived at the house for six years and were friends, said Patrick Rafter, president and chief executive of Creative Housing Inc., a nonprofit organization that owns the house and provide housing to people with developmental disabilities.

He said the company did not employ the caregiver.

The home sits in the back of a cul-de-sac in a residential area, and the street was blocked by police tape Wednesday night.

Judy Fountain, who lives across from the cul-de-sac, said she saw flames coming out the front door and white smoke that turned to black as windows broke.

She said one of the male residents was the first carried out and he had burns on his hands and face. She said four or five firefighters later carried a blanket-wrapped body out of the home.