MEDINA — A family of six escaped uninjured from a fire that destroyed their home at 840 Gayer Drive on Friday night, but their three dogs died in the blaze.
Medina Fire Chief Bob Painter said the fire was ignited around 10 p.m. when a 19-year-old resident of the house tried to use a lighter to find a remote control under a bed. The box spring caught on fire first, he said, and ignited the mattresses and bedspreads.
“They tried to extinguish it themselves before calling 911,” Painter said. “They left doors and windows open trying to let the smoke out, but it actually let the air in and helped fan the fire.”
By the time the department arrived on scene around 10:10 p.m., 40 percent of the house was fully engulfed in fire, Painter said. About 10 minutes later, the roof caved in.
“This thing had quite a bit of headway before we got the call,” he said.
Medina police Lt. Dave Birckbichler identified the family as Karen and Robert Rhine Jr., and their four children, Zachary, 19, twins Adam and Alex, 16, and Nathan, 14. The family was assisted at the scene by the Red Cross and are staying with relatives.
Painter said the family was already out of the house when the fire department arrived. He said the first firefighters on scene tried to enter the house to rescue the animals, a Labrador retriever, a Rottweiler and a terrier mix, but they were unable to make it past the front porch.
Painter said damage to the house and the family’s possessions is estimated at $180,000.
“It’s pretty much a total loss,” he said.
A friend of the family, Pam Eggeman, has set up a fund for donations to the family at FirstMerit Bank. Any monetary donation would be appreciated, Eggeman said.
Medina police and Life Support Team were also on scene.
Painter said he encourages anyone faced with a growing fire to call 911 immediately.
“It’s quicker to call 911 and let it burn,” he said. “Fire grows two to three times every minute. It’s really critical to get us moving first.”
Contact Jennifer Pignolet at (330) 721-4063 or firstname.lastname@example.org.