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Electricity was shut off at Akron home where man was killed in fire, candle may have been the cause

Man killed in Akron house fire on Rhodes Avenue
Posted at 5:22 AM, Dec 01, 2017

A candle may have caused the blaze that killed a man in an Akron home that did not have electricity.

The blaze broke out around 10:10 p.m. on Thursday.

Alvin Watkins, 56, lived in the home with his mother and sister. 

Fire officials were told the family had been living in the home without electricity, but paid their bill on Thursday to have power restored on Friday.

Family members told fire crews the family was using candles as a source of light. Authorities say that could be what caused the fire. 

Late Thursday night, as smoke started pouring from the home, neighbors rushed inside to help.

Watkins was found upstairs and did not survive.

His mother and sister were taken to a local hospital. 

First Energy confirmed the electricity was turned off due to unpaid bills, but could not confirm that the electricity was supposed to be turned on Friday. 

Mark Durbin, a spokesperson for the company, said there is help for people struggling to pay bills.

"By all means, call us. Call our customer call center. We have programs in place where we can try to get help, plans that we can set up to make sure people are paying along the way," he said. 

Akron fire officials said there were smoke detectors in the home, but it's unclear if those were working.

More information about how to get help here.