Fire that Destroyed 3 Homes Still Under Investigation

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CANTON, Ohio -- Fire investigators are still trying to determine what sparked the flames that destroyed three houses on Fifth St. N.E. early Friday morning.

For 75-year-old Shirley Copeland, coming home will never be the same.

"Nothing. Nothing salvageable," Copeland said Sunday as she stared at the pile of rubble that was once her longtime home. "Wow. All I can say is wow."

Copeland said the fire claimed the setting of more than 40 years of memories for her family, along with every single possession. She escaped with only the clothes on her back.

It was about 2:15 a.m. Friday when Copeland and her son saw the smoke -- thick and fast -- coming from the kitchen.

"You know you inhale this smoke, and it got so hard to breathe. I said, 'Come on, let's get outta here,' and we left out. And by that time, it was like a whoosh--and that was it," Copeland said.

The flames quickly spread to the two neighboring homes.

Canton Fire Battalion Chief Tom Garra told Fox 8 two homes collapsed from the fire, while the third had to be torn down because its roof collapsed.

In all, seven adults and two children escaped.

Copeland's beloved chihuahua did not.

Despite the magnitude of her loss, Copeland's resilience is inspiring.

"Your lowest feeling cannot bring this back. So we just learn to accept what has happened and go on. There's brighter days tomorrow," she said.

Two firefighters were slightly hurt battling the fire. They have been treated and released from a local hospital.

The Red Cross is providing living accommodations for the displaced families.

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