79-year-old succumbs as result of fire
By VIRGINIA SHANK
WARREN – Despite the quick response of rescue crews and the working smoke detectors inside the home, a city woman died Wednesday as a result of a fire at her residence.
Fire officials confirmed that Loan Vang, 79, likely died from smoke inhalation. Warren fire crews removed her from the basement of her home at 949 Columbia Place S.E. around noon – minutes after receiving the call and arriving at the scene.
She was taken to a local hospital by ambulance after attempts were made to perform CPR on her at the scene.
Neighbors said Vang was visually impaired and lived alone.
“We’ve known her for years,” said Brooke Bowden, who lives in the house next door to Vang’s. “This is just terrible. It’s really hard to believe.”
Bowden credits her dog, Beau, with sensing something was amiss as she was heading back to her house after taking the pet for a walk. She said the dog was pulling on her a bit and the closer she got to home the more she heard a beeping sound, later determined to have been a fire alarm in Vang’s house. Bowden saw smoke coming from a second floor window and called to her mother, Gayle Tator, to call 911. Tator, who lived next door to Vang at least 10 years, was visibly shaken as she watched medics lift Vang into the ambulance. Vang, who was found in the basement, was removed from the house through a side door.
Warren Fire Chief Ken Nussle said the cause was under investigation. He said there were some items in the basement that had been burnt including clothing. However, he said the fire was contained to the basement area and that the house sustained minimal structural damage.
Nussle said because firefighters were not sure where Vang was when they arrived, they split up with several going to the second floor and others going to the basement.
“We received reports of smoke coming from upstairs, but there really wasn’t a lot of smoke when we got here,” he said.
Nussle said Vang was a recipient of the city’s smoke detector giveaway, and she had working detectors on every level of the two-story home. He said there’s a possibility that Vang heard the fire alarms and went to the basement to check it out, but was overcome by smoke.
Witnesses said Tator immediately went to Vang’s house, went into the front door and yelled for her neighbor. However, Vang did not respond and Tator could not see her anywhere.
Zack Tenney, who lives across the street, said he and his mom, Trish Keener, saw smoke everywhere.
“That’s all you could see the closer you got to the house,” he said. “It was like one huge gust of smoke.”