Youngstown fire shows family how fleeting life can be

Tasha was taken to the hospital, and her sister, Karen Phillips (right), died after a fire at their home on Crandall Avenue in Youngstown.


YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio (WYTV) – Family members of a woman who died following a house fire in Youngstown say the tragedy shows just how quickly lives can change.

Relatives say they drove here from Georgia after learning that the fire on Crandall Avenue had claimed the life of 49-year-old Karen Phillips. The fire, believed to be caused by an electrical issue, also sent other family members to the hospital.

Phillips’ sister, Tonya Browner, drove to Youngstown with her mother, Ola. She shared a photo of Karen and her other sister, Tasha, which was taken just hours before the fire started.

“We were laughing and then, just five hours after that, I received a phone call that she has passed,” she said.

Tasha was released from the hospital and is doing OK, but Karen had to be pulled from a second-floor bathroom and passed away later at Mercy Health.

Tasha’s 6-year-old daughter was not hurt, but her husband T.J. suffered several broken bones trying to jump from the porch roof of the burning house. He remained in the hospital on Tuesday but is expected to be OK.

“He’s gonna be in the hospital for quite some time, but he’s gonna make a full recovery,” Tonya said.

Tonya and Ola said Karen moved to the area from Atlanta about a year ago and worked for Exal Corporation, quickly making friends in the neighborhood.

As the family tries to salvage what they can from this house, they say the fire reaffirms just how fleeting life can be.

“You have a problem with someone, or a grudge or whatever, my sister and I did not have that, but clear it up, because at the end of the day, life… really is in the blink of an eye,” she said.

Four people, including a young child, were taken to the hospital after a house caught fire in Youngstown early Sunday morning.