8 firefighters hurt battling Ohio fire

By Juliann Vachon and Joseph Szydlowski
The Cincinnati Post
Copyright 2007 ProQuest Information and Learning
All Rights Reserved
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Copyright 2007 Cincinnati Post

CINCINNATI, Ohio — Jim Jaeger and his wife, Nancy, were preparing for a Cincinnati Corvette Club meeting Wednesday evening when a fire broke out at their $3 million three-story home in Indian Hill.

Eight firefighters were injured and a family cat died in the three-alarm blaze that broke out at about 6:45 p.m. at 9550 Cunningham Road.

Firefighters had entered the residence and were near the third-floor attic when a "rapid-fire expansion" - caused by either a backdraft or flashover - blew out sections of the roof and windows at the front of the house, said Madeira-Indian Hill Fire Department Chief Steve Ashbrock.

That drove firefighters out of the house. Five Madeira-Indian Hill firefighters and one Loveland firefighter sustained first, second and potentially third degree burns to the hands, knees, ankles and faces in the fire surge, Ashbrock said.

One other firefighter injured his shoulder while carrying a hose and another was hospitalized with chest pain.

Five firefighters were taken to University Hospital, two to Bethesda North Hospital and one to Jewish Hospital for treatment.

About 75 units were on the scene from Milford, Hamilton County, Silverton, Deer Park, Loveland and Indian Hill-Madeira, Ashbrock said. The blaze was officially extinguished as of 10 p.m., but firefighters continued working through the night looking for hot spots and clearing out equipment.

Positioned at the top of a hill, Ashbrock said firefighters were "also concentrating on water supply issues" as they battled flames. The department connected hoses to water supplies at the bottom of the hill, which were more than 1,000 feet away from the house. One of the aerial towers from which firefighters were spraying water onto the house was also malfunctioning, he said.

Built in 1928 for the Kroger family, the house experienced "extensive damage to the point of total destruction" on the third floor, Ashbrock said. The first and second floors sustained smoke and water damage.

The house had a slate roof, which held the fire in and allowed it to increase in size and temperature undetected until reaching ignition temperature. Temperatures approached 1,700 degrees Fahrenheit, Ashbrock said.

Jaeger, retired founder of Cincinnati Microwave, said he had just finished eating dinner and was preparing to discuss plans for a Cincinnati Corvette Club reunion when the fire alarm went off at about 6:45 p.m.

An advanced security system panel showed the fire was in the third floor attic. Jaeger said he went upstairs to look around and his wife ran outside and saw flames coming from the roof.

"When I went upstairs, it wasn't very smoky," Jaeger said. "But once I turned around, I saw the smoke coming out of the room. Everything happened so fast, it just had to have been burning for a while."

Jaeger said the only thing in the attic was an air conditioning handler, which he suspected might have played a role in the fire.

The house contained an extensive library of valuable books, Ashbrock said, and firefighters hoped they were not damaged.

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