Thursday, August 24, 2000

Fire kills Hamilton woman, 78, in tight-knit neighborhood

By David Eck
Enquirer Contributor

        HAMILTON — As fire consumed Edith Nipper's small pink house on Brookcrest Drive on this city's west side Wednesday morning, neighbors yelled for Mrs. Nipper to try crawling along the floor to escape.

        One person tried to break in the front door but was pushed back by heat and flames.

        “There were already flames coming up where her kitchen is by that time,” said a neighbor, who lives two doors away but was shaken by Mrs. Nipper's death and declined to give her name. “We couldn't ever get close. We went all around the house hollering for her to get down on the floor.”

        Firefighters found Mrs. Nipper, 78, on the floor of her living room.

        “It's entirely possible she was trying to get out,” said Hamilton Deputy Fire Chief Greg Robbins. “There's no way of knowing that.”

        A next-door neighbor leaving for work noticed the fire shortly before 6:30 a.m., officials said. The fire caused $120,000 in damage and remains under investigation. The house is a total loss, Deputy Chief Robbins said.

        The fire “could have been burning a long time in the evening before it got discovered,” he said.

        Smoke from the blaze, which Deputy Chief Robbins said started in the back of the house, could be smelled throughout the tidy, quiet neighborhood.

        “It's something we've never seen in this neighborhood. ... and I hope it's something we never see again,” said Richard Glasmeier, who lives about a block from Mrs. Nipper and ran to her house during the fire. “It's very disturbing.”

        Mrs. Nipper was a friendly, meticulous woman who constantly fed neighborhood cats and swept the walk in front of her house almost every morning, said her son, Henry Nipper.

        She had lived in the house for nearly 50 years with her husband until he died last year.

        Recently, she suffered poor health, and Mr. Nipper said he was planning to move back in with her.

        Watching firefighters battle final hot spots, neighbors wept as Mrs. Nipper's body was wheeled out of the house to a coroner's van.

        “This is a close neighborhood back here,” Mr. Glasmeier said. “Everybody looks out for the older people.”


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