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Ohio Fire Marshal declares 2022 Christmas weekend deadliest on record for fatal fires

Community rallies after Newcomerstown family of six killed in fire
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Posted at 5:09 PM, Dec 27, 2022

NEWCOMERSTOWN, Ohio — Five fires across Ohio this past weekend led to what officials say was their deadliest Christmas weekend on record, amounting to the death of 10 Ohioans.

"2013 was the last year we had a record like this," Ohio Fire Marshal Kevin Reardon said. "We also had 121 fatalities in the year 2019. We're at 151 right now. So we are well ahead of both of those both of those periods of time. And it is alarming because we know that so many of these fires were preventable."

Three of them happened in Northeast Ohio counties: Medina, Stark and Tuscarawas.

In Tuscarawas County, a family of six died in a fire early Monday morning,

According to Mayor Pat Cadle, police and firefighters responded to a structure fire in the 400 block of Spaulding Avenue around 1:30 a.m. Upon arrival, crews found the home fully engulfed in flames, the mayor said. Multiple agencies were called in to render mutual aid.

Krista Newman and Donell Parks make up part of team of friends that’s now helping out this family, by raising money for funeral costs through online fundraisers and future events throughout Newcomerstown.

"Family and friends are everything," Newman explained. One day they are here, the next they are gone. I think everybody is just in a fog right now, a haze, we’re in shock. We don’t understand this, the whole family gone."

On Monday night, more than a hundred Newcomerstown village residents gathered their grief outside Christ United Methodist Church as a way to remember this family of six.

6 die in Newcomerstown house fire day after Christmas

Newman explained planning for a benefit and spaghetti dinner is also underway. She said that is scheduled to take place on Feb. 11 from 1 to 5 p.m. at Newscomerstown West Elementary. The event is set to include a silent auction, as well as face painting and other kid friendly events in honor of the children who died.

"We want to keep their memory alive," Newman explained.

As of Tuesday afternoon, more than $15,000 has been raised across two online fundraisers, which can be viewed here and here.

News 5 is told both sides of the family created a fundraiser, however all the money raised between the two accounts will help pay for funeral costs.

To help provide transparency and ensure accuracy, News 5 will not publish the names of those killed in the fire until after the Tuscarawas County Coroner's Office has formally notified next-of-kin and released those individuals' names.

Cars continued to creep by the home Tuesday as many wait to learn what exactly caused the fire. The Ohio State Fire Marshal’s office said the fire started on the first floor of the home, but have not formally determined a cause.

However in a release, investigators said, "At this time, we cannot eliminate supplemental heating devices, wood burner, torpedo heaters, electrical space heaters as a cause."

"There was evidence that we found at the scene that a wood burner was being used, kerosene heaters were being used, electric space heaters were being used and they're most likely not used in a proper manner," Assistant Bureau Chief at the Ohio State Fire Marshal's Office Brian Peterman said.

Peterman added that while damage to the home was extensive, it does not appear that working smoke detectors were present.

Other fatal fires over the weekend include a barn fire in Darke County which killed one, a residential fire in Medina County that killed one, a Perry Township fire that killed one, and a Columbiana County fire killing one.

"Smoke detectors save lives over and over and over again," Reardon said. "I can't say that enough - smoke detectors save lives. If you're using gas powered appliances in your home any time of the year, have a carbon monoxide detector near those appliances. There's a lot of things you can do as a homeowner and as an apartment dweller to take and keep your environment safe."

RELATED: Newcomerstown residents hold vigil after family of 6 dies in house fire day after Christmas

You can watch more in the player below about the fatal fire in Newcomerstown and the community that has rallied together.

6 die in Newcomerstown house fire

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