July 24, 2016

Mostly cloudy

House fire ruled arson

Staff Writer

MEDINA — State fire marshal investigators determined Monday night’s house fire on Sturbridge Drive, which took the life of Enoch Wootton, 49, was the result of arson.

“Investigators determined the fire (at 408 Sturbridge Drive) was intentionally set based on evidence found during the on-scene examination and through witness interviews,” investigators said in a statement. “The fire started in the living room. Because this is an ongoing investigation, additional details about how the fire started cannot be released at this time.”

The blaze was reported to police at 11:46 p.m. Monday by a passing motorist and nearby resident, Thomas Mcgurk, who saw the flame-engulfed house shortly before Tyler Keberle, 15, of 406 Sturbridge Drive, discovered the fire.

Together, Mcgurk, Keberle’s mom, Patricia Best, and her husband, Mark, helped get five children ranging in age from 8 to 11 — three of them residents and two neighborhood children — out of the house via a basement window one of the children broke.

At that point, firefighters and police had arrived, Best said.

Wootton was on the ground level, where the fire started and spread, Fire Chief Bob Painter said, and it was determined there was a fire originally lit in the fireplace.

Painter said firefighters received the call at 11:54 p.m.

When the children, who were having a sleepover, realized there was a fire in the house, the 8-year-old daughter of Wootton attempted to get her father’s attention, but was unable to and ran back downstairs. Shortly thereafter, the fire flashed over, trapping the kids in the basement.

Wootton’s wife, Cynthia, was not at home at the time of the fire, police said.

“This is a tragic event that has deeply affected a community,” State Fire Marshal Michael P. Bell said in a statement. “Division of State Fire Marshal investigators are committed to solving this case with the assistance of the local authorities.”

Medina County Coroner Neil Grabenstetter said Wootton’s cause of death was a result of a combination of smoke inhalation and some heart disease; however, more tests, such as toxicology, are being performed.

“Unfortunately, those take several weeks,” he said.

Painter said the state fire marshal, city fire department and local authorities will meet this morning to put the pieces together. He added the toxicology report is key as well as any additional information such as interviews with the two neighboring children.

“When you get to this point, it’s going to take a little bit of time,” Painter said. “Overall, it was a terrible fire. We’re glad the kids were out of there.”

He added there are several details surrounding the incident that need to be cleared up, such as if there was anything in Wootton’s system during the time of the fire and why there was a fire lit in the fireplace during warm weather.

Police Lt. Bob Starcher said there have been no charges filed regarding this case and the investigation is now out of their hands and into the county prosecutor’s.

Shofar may be reached at 330-721-4044 or cshofar@ohio.net.