CLEVELAND - Crews have shifted a recovery effort to a demolition project now that the fourth victim of an early morning Cleveland house fire has been found.
The blaze began at about 1 a.m. Tuesday on Hillview Road in Cleveland.
Cold and windy conditions made fighting the fire extremely difficult and dangerous. When crews arrived, flames were shooting out of every window in the home. Crews were unable to enter the house and had to fight the fire from outside.
There were 5 people living in the home. A husband and wife, both 46, their 3-year-old son, an 8-year-old granddaughter and a 44-year-old nephew.
Assistant Fire Chief Greg Glauner says that the husband and wife were sleeping on the second floor when the fire began. The woman tried to rescue her son, but was turned back by heat and smoke. She escaped by jumping from a window. She is hospitalized in stable condition.
The father also tried to rescue the child, but was never seen after that.
The father and son were found in the basement of the home. The nephew in the kitchen and the granddaughter on the first floor of the home. Because the house collapsed in the fire, Glauner says that might not be where the victims' last locations actually were.
The home did not have working smoke detectors.
"I'd just like to plead with the public to make sure they have working smoke detectors so that they can get an early warning and get out. These were terrible conditions that these firefighters fought this fire in. All these things add the firefighters inability to get the people out. When they showed up here they had to take a defensive attack because they couldn't get in the structure. Had they had working smoke detectors, possibly they could have saved lives," said Glauner.
One firefighter was hurt while fighting the fire, but he sustained only a minor knee injury.
The cause of the blaze has not been determined yet.