Fire chief remembers fatal fires in Youngstown

YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio (WYTV) – Youngstown Fire Chief John O’Neill says Tuesday night’s fire on Bryson Street is the city’s third fire with multiple fatalities in nine years.

Nakeme Autry, 24, and her two children, 8 months and 2 years old, died of what appears to be smoke inhalation, according to Mahoning County Coroner Dr. Joseph Ohr.

A memorial for three victims of a house fire on Bryson Street in Youngstown.No one was able to reach them after they became trapped in the house that was engulfed in flames.

The surviving family members have a place to stay Thursday night.

“I don’t think there’s a firefighter that doesn’t know within moments whether it was a successful rescue,” Chief O’Neill said.

O’Neill was also head of the department during the 2015 fire on Powers Way that killed Corinne Gump and her grandparents. He was also there in 2008 for the fire that killed six members of the Crawford family.

“All three of them were similar. Victims were brought out of the building and then firefighters went into a second phase of saving the building so we could investigate.”

There was enough evidence saved in 2008 to convict Michael Davis for arson. Robert Semen, who faces capital murder charges in relation to the Powers Way fire, will go on trial in September.

Investigators said Tuesday’s fire appears to be accidental.

Chief O’Neill remembers all of the fires even though most of his force, who has only been working for eight years or less, might not.

“The more experienced firefighters who have been through this are the greatest help to them, saying, ‘This is what we do. This is our occupation and it’s difficult.'”

The firefighters who fought Tuesday’s fire will return to work on Friday. Chief O’Neill will have a short meeting with them and says he will start by commending them for their work in a difficult situation.

Comments are closed.