VAUGHNSVILLE, Ohio -- What had been an ordinary traffic stop quickly turned into a frantic effort by a Putnam County sheriff's deputy to get three residents out of a burning house late Thursday.
Sheriff Jim Beutler said Deputy Kevin Siefker was on a traffic stop about a block away when he heard what sounded like an explosion and rushed to 382 W. Find-lay St. shortly before 10:30 p.m. Thursday. After rescuing two women from the burning structure, Siefker attempted to get the homeowner, Stanley Rayman, out.
"He returned back to the house to try to get in, to get to him, but by then, within just a couple of minutes, the house was so consumed by fire and smoke, he couldn't make entry again," Beutler said. "He tried a couple times, but the smoke just kept knocking him down. He just couldn't get to him."
Rayman, 80, was taken to St. Rita's Medical Center, where he died from his injuries, Beutler said.
Moments after hearing the explosion, a winded Siefker frantically radioed dispatch for help. According to the scanner traffic archived by RadioReference.com and obtained by The Lima News, Siefker was urgent in his calls for help.
"I need fire department at 382 Findlay," Siefker said. "Fourteen, Putnam. Give me some help. I've got some elderly inside the building here fully engulfed. Hurry!"
Moments later, Siefker rescued Ray-man's 80-year-old wife, Doris Rayman, and his sister-in-law, 86-year-old Evelyn Burman, from the burning structure, Beutler said.
A 6-year-old boy who had also been in the structure got out on his own as Siefker arrived, Beutler said. "Still have a male inside," Siefker said. "Fourteen, if it's fully engulfed, stay out," another officer said.
Firefighters from Kalida, Ottoville, Columbus Grove and Fort Jennings were called to battle the blaze. After the house rekindled early Friday morning, firefighters from Allen County's American Township also were called to the scene to assist. Shane Cartmill, a spokesman for the Division of State Fire Marshal, said the fire has been ruled accidental.
"The fire originated in or around the dryer," Cartmill said. "When the home's occupants heard the dryer stop without the notification sound, they discovered the fire and began to attempt to escape the home." Beutler said it wasn't easy for Siefker to get the women out of the house. "It was great effort on his part," Beutler said.
"He had to go into an enclosed porch which is directly adjacent to where the fire was." Cartmill said the house is considered a total loss. The Putnam County Auditor's Web site lists the house's value at $69,430.
McClatchy-Tribune News Service