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Wednesday, February 27th, 2013
By Margie Wuebker
Man dies in fire near Celina
Flames streaked from mobile home
CELINA - A mobile home fire claimed the life of an unidentified man Tuesday night in the 3600 block of Bunker Hill Road, west of the city.
Celina and Coldwater firefighters responded to the area off state Route 118 after a neighbor reportedly called 911 just before 8 p.m.
"Flames were shooting from the front and rear of the trailer when we arrived," Celina Fire Chief Doug Wolters said this morning. "The flames definitely had a head start."
Wolters said firefighters tried to determine where the victim might be and entered an area that was not afire. However, they could not locate the person described as an "older gentleman."
The county auditor's website lists the owner of the property as Robert Bonvillian.
Firefighters attempted entry from the other side of the residence but were driven back by flames and intense heat.
"Nobody could live in those flames and heat," Wolters said. "We recovered the body after the fire was out."
The fire chief declined to specify where the body was found, the possible cause of the fire and the point of origin pending completion of an investigation by the Ohio State Fire Marshal's Office.
The body was transported by ambulance to Mercer County Community Hospital in Coldwater, and a decision had not been made yet this morning on whether to request an autopsy to determine whether death was due to the fire or natural causes.
"The victim's name will not be released until we make positive identification," Wolters said. "The sheriff's office contacted possible relatives, but they did not come to the scene to the best of my knowledge."
The Mercer County Prosecutor's Office was contacted due to the loss of life, which Wolters termed as standard procedure in such instances.
Five trucks and some 27 firefighters responded to the scene with Mercer County Emergency Response Volunteers providing traffic control. Tankers brought water to the scene.
"Fighting a trailer fire is different from dealing with a house fire," Wolters said. "Flames quickly gain access to the area beneath the trailer, causing the floor to become spongy and holes to form."
This marks the first fatal mobile home fire in the area since 4-year-old Alisha Eisenhut and 3-year-old Brandon Eisenhut died in a Nov. 7, 2001, blaze at Grand Manor Trailer Park, 3601 state Route 703. The youngsters apparently were playing with a lighter in a closed bedroom while their mother and younger brother slept in another room down the hall.
Ohio recorded an estimated 106 fire deaths in 2012, a 17 percent drop from the 128 recorded the previous year. Statistics from the state fire marshal's office did not indicate how many had occurred in mobile homes.
It is recommended occupants have working smoke detectors in the kitchen area, outside the area where heating equipment is located and in sleeping areas. The heating system should be checked annually by a qualified technician and care should be taken to keep the area beneath the trailer free of debris because fires can smolder or burn there for some time before they are detected.
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