SALEM, Ohio (WYTV) – The state fire marshal’s office is investigating a Wednesday morning apartment fire in Salem that killed a woman.
Officials identified her as Gayle Reed, 62. Salem Police Det. Brad Davis and Chief J. T. Panezott confirmed she was the victim, with Davis saying she was identified through the Columbiana County Coroner’s Office, which is investigating her cause of death.
Fire department response was different than most calls, with almost double the manpower for search and rescue. When the call for the fire came in, firefighters were in department training and rushed over to 846 E. Third St. for the occupied apartment fire, knocking on doors telling everyone to get out.
The woman who lives underneath the apartment where the fire started was able to grab some of her things. She said the fire smelled like paper burning.
“Heavy smoke damage in the area where the fire started. There is smoke damage throughout,” Salem Fire Chief Jeff Hughes said.
Allison and her two 2-year-old son have lived in their apartment for less than a month. They were treated for smoke inhalation and are okay. The property owner was also on scene after tenants called him to tell him about the fire.
A fire department captain and lieutenant were the first to go inside the apartment, while everyone else started a primary search. There were more firefighters on scene because of the training exercise.
“Normally, it is four men on a response and a building of this size doing an initial attack plus search and rescue, it is kind of difficult but we usually do pretty well,” Hughes said. “We called in off-duty personnel. I am going to say our initial response was probably nine to 10 people, which worked out to our benefit for the search and rescue.”
The apartment landlord said there are six two-bedroom apartments in the building. He said the two people who lived in the apartment where the fire happened had moved in a few months ago. He does have insurance on the building.
The Red Cross and Salvation Army have been contacted to assist the tenants who were displaced by the fire.
Fire department officials said that the fire started in a corner bedroom, but they do not know how the fire ignited.