Toddler Dies, 7 Burned in Amish House Fire in Middlefield Township
November 23, 2018 by Ann Wishart

Preliminary Investigation Shows Blaze Started on 1st Floor

It’s one of those events that, fortunately, doesn’t happen all the time. This was one of the worst most people will see in their career. – Tony Yeropoli

A toddler died and seven members of an Amish family were critically burned when a flash fire blazed through their home on Peters Road in Middlefield Township the day before Thanksgiving.

Middlefield Fire Captain Tony Yeropoli said the call of a fire with possible injuries came in around 6 p.m. Nov. 21.

Firefighters and paramedics arrived at the scene within minutes and the fire was out very shortly, he said, adding a total of 11 individuals lived in the house.

People who gathered in the front yard informed firefighters everyone was out of the home except for a 2-year-old girl, Yeropoli said.

The child was unresponsive when firefighters brought her outside to the emergency medical technicians, he added.

Several victims were taking shelter from the freezing temperatures in outbuildings and three had gone to neighbors’ homes, Yeropoli said.

“The family just got out of the house as fast as they could,” he said.

Four members of the family were take via emergency helicopter and three were taken by ambulances to area hospitals including University Hospitals Geauga Medical Center, Cleveland MetroHealth Medical Center, Hillcrest Hospital and Akron Children’s Hospital.

Although the fire burned itself out quickly, firefighters who are also certified as EMTs and paramedics cared for injured individuals until ambulances arrived, Yeropoli said, adding other firefighters did an overall search of the smoldering house for hot spots and vented the smoke.

A preliminary investigation indicated the fire in the 2,560-square-foot home started on the first floor, he said.

When a flash fire, usually started by a liquid fuel such as white gas, starts in a confined area, like a closed-up house, it only lasts as long at there is oxygen available, Yeropoli said.

If there is a limited amount of oxygen, the fire flashes, then goes out, he said.

“It is a very intense fire and it uses up a lot of oxygen,” Yeropoli said.

The state fire marshall, the Geauga County Fire Investigative Unit and the Middlefield Fire Department continue to investigate the incident, he said.

Area fire departments who also responded to the house fire were from Burton Village, Hambden Township and Mesopotamia, as well as Windsor and Parkman townships, the captain said.

EMTs arrived in ambulances from Chardon and Munson Township, West Farmington, Troy and Montville townships, and the independent Community Care Ambulance and South Central Ambulance Service of Ashtabula.

“It’s one of those events that, fortunately, doesn’t happen all the time. This was one of the worst most people will see in their career,” Yeropoli said.