September 26, 2023

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Akron firefighters rescued two women trapped inside a burning home Thursday morning.

The women and a man who also was inside when the fire started were treated for injuries. Seven Akron firefighters were also treated for either burns or smoke inhalation.

One resident, Roberta Melvin, suffered what fire officials described as severe burns. She was being treated at the burn unit of Akron Children’s Hospital. The other residents were treated for smoke inhalation. The names and conditions of the other residents were not immediately available.

Three Akron firefighters suffered minor burns, while four other firefighters suffered from smoke inhalation.

Some of the injured firefighters were taken to Akron General Medical Center.

Firefighters were called to the home, in the 900 block of Barbara Avenue, just before 10 a.m., when a neighbor saw flames shooting out of the second-floor windows, said fire Inspector Sierjie Lash, who also serves as the department’s spokeswoman.

“The firefighters, when they got into the home, they opened up windows to get inside and the fire did flash,” Lash said. “So we have some minor burns. From what I hear, they’re doing OK at this time.”

In a 911 call released Thursday afternoon, a woman inside the house tells a dispatcher that she, her fiance and an older woman are trapped upstairs and that flames from the first floor were blocking their way to a staircase.

“I just woke up and the bottom story of my house is on fire,” the woman tells the dispatcher.

The woman coughs several times during the call while the dispatcher urges her to get as close to the floor as possible in order to breathe cleaner air.

“This smoke is ridiculous,” the woman is heard saying.

At one point, she tells her fiance to avoid going outside.

“You can’t go outside. You’re not jumping outside,” she says just before fire trucks arrive.

District Fire Chief Dennis Stoneman said firefighters arrived to see the man standing outside on a porch roof. Behind him, flames were stretching outside two upper-floor windows, and heavy smoke was billowing into the frozen rain falling outside.

The man was rescued with a fire department ladder. Firefighters then made their way inside to the two women, who were trapped on the second floor amid the thick smoke and heavy flames.

“The firefighters went inside to get them out, and there was a [fire] flash before they could take them down the ladder,” Stoneman said.

Firefighters say the heat inside was so intense that it penetrated one firefighter’s jacket, causing burns to his back.

An official cause of the fire has yet to be determined. Stoneman said it appears to be accidental. The Northeast Ohio chapter of the American Red Cross said it will be assisting the family.

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