Tuesday, October 26, 2004

Children's screams haunt neighbors

Fire in Toledo home left 7 dead

By John Seewer
The Associated Press

TOLEDO - The mother of six children killed in a fire told family members that she was standing just outside her open front door when she noticed smoke coming from upstairs and tried to run back and save them.

But the smoke was too much, and she had to run to a neighbor's apartment for help, the woman's mother, Ora Ragland, said Monday, a day after the fire killed seven children.

At least three neighbors went up the staircase, trying to reach the six siblings and a cousin who were trapped in two upstairs bedrooms and screaming for help.

"The smoke was coming at me," said Anthony Osley, who was visiting his sister nearby. "You couldn't save those kids."

All seven, ages 6 months to 7 years, died from smoke inhalation, the Lucas County coroner ruled Monday.

It will be at least two days before investigators can determine the cause of the fire, which started in one of the rear bedrooms on the second floor, said Deputy Fire Chief Robert Metzger.

Tests were planned to see if electric baseboard heaters contributed to the fire. Although it's not known whether two smoke detectors were working, firefighters did not hear them when they arrived, Metzger said.

The victims were five sisters - Tanija Sanders, 7 months; Talia Sanders, 1; Terri Sanders, 6; Brionna McCullough 2; Teairia McCullough, 7 - their brother, Brian McCullough, 5, and a girl cousin, Quanisha Kirk, 7, family members said.

Six were found in an upstairs bedroom and a baby was found in a crib in another room.

Osley said he saw smoke coming from the apartment and at first thought it may be from a backyard barbecue.

He said he was able to reach the top of the stairs but couldn't go any farther.

"The thing that's hurting me was I had to hear those kids screaming," he said. "It just hurts that I couldn't do anything."

Two funeral homes in Toledo have offered to donate their services to the family and the city will give them cemetery plots for all of the children, said Mayor Jack Ford.

"We want to see that the youngsters have a decent burial," Ford said.

Cheney: No artificial date for ending terror war
Candidates can't control surprises
Election 2004 section
Battle for District 3 seat focuses on job creation
Issue 4 would phase out city's property tax over 10-year span
Media blitz begins for Ohio's Issue 1
Growth funding sought
Foreign observers banned by Blackwell
Union boss, legislator seek Senate seat
Ballot finally reaches soldier
Life experiences separate Supreme Court candidates
Terrace Park seeks rare tax increases
Sheriff's race has 'names'
Golf Manor asks renewal of 7-mill operating levy
Davis/Clooney in the stretch
Poll: Fletcher's approval rating has dropped 10 percent since May
Bunning launches bus tour
Newport's key issue: taking land
Endorsement: Return Voinovich to Senate
Your Voice: Catholic stance against Kerry valid

Buried in paper, medical groups turn to annual fees
Homeless man city's 60th homicide victim
Agency's spending under fire
Children's screams haunt neighbors
Local news briefs

Fire burns 2 homes overnight in Ludlow
Sidewalk hookup sought for school
Wright finalist at Wisconsin college

Board picks firms to build schools
'9/11' director will visit UC during tour
SCPA features dance ensemble

Trick or treat times

Thomas Jones owned tool shops

Bronson: Spendaholics need a dose of cutting back
Coat drive helps keep folks warm