By CASSANDRA SHOFAR
MEDINA â€” One by one, five children were pulled through a basement window as flames licked the house above them where Enoch Wootton, the father of three of them, was trapped.
Wootton, 49, of 408 Sturbridge Drive, was on the ground level of the house â€” where the fire is believed to have started around 8:45 p.m. He did not survive, Fire Chief Bob Painter said.
Three of Woottonâ€™s children â€” a girl, 8, and boys, ages 10 and 11, and two 11-year-old neighborhood boys â€” were having a sleepover in the basement, police said.
A passing motorist and nearby resident, Thomas Mcgurk, saw the house on fire and called police. Meanwhile, Tyler Keberle, 15, of 406 Sturbridge Drive, kept thinking he was hearing firecrackers, then looked out his kitchen window, saw the house swallowed in flames and ran upstairs to alert his parents, said his mother, Patricia Best.
â€œThe whole front of the house was engulfed in flames, youâ€™ve never seen anything so horrific,â€ Best said, shaking her head as she stood next to the skeletal remains of the house. â€œNobody was outside.â€
A state fire marshal (above) investigates the scene of a house fire that broke out Monday night at 408 Sturbridge Drive in Medina. A neighbor, her husband and a passing motorist helped rescue five children trapped in the basement. (Andrew Dolph | Staff Photographer)
Enoch Wootton, father of three children, died in the blaze. The cause of Woottonâ€™s death and the fire remain under investigation. Medina Fire Chief Bob Painter estimated damage to the home at $200,000. (Shirley Ware | Photo Editor)
Best said the wind luckily was blowing the flames away from their house, and she immediately thought of the kids in the house and ran to bang on the windows while her husband, Mark, looked for something to break them in.
By the time her husband returned, they had discovered the kids were in the basement and one of them had broken the window.
â€œMy husband pulled the glass out of the frame â€¦ and one by one, we pulled the kids out,â€ she said, adding Mcgurk also helped carry the kids out, who were â€œcrying and hysterical.â€
Best said she was amazed they could get as close as they did with â€œthe flames shooting out everywhere,â€ but after they got the children out, all the windows started breaking and she knew they couldnâ€™t get close to the house again.
Painter said when the children first realized there was a fire in the house, the 8-year-old attempted to get the attention of Wootton, who was on the couch, but was unable to and ran back downstairs.
â€œThatâ€™s when it flashed over and they couldnâ€™t get back up,â€ Painter said, indicating the fire consumed the first level, trapping the kids in the basement.
Once the children were out, LST transported them to Medina General Hospital, police Lt. Bob Starcher said, who added the childrenâ€™s mother was not at home at the time of the fire. He said Tuesday he believes the children are staying with their mother.
â€œItâ€™s pretty much a skeleton out there,â€ Painter said of the house, who estimated damage at $200,000. â€œIt was a total loss. The actual cause is still under investigation.â€
A state fire marshal also is investigating, Painter said.
Shofar may be reached at 330-721-4044 or firstname.lastname@example.org.