WILLIAMSFIELD TOWNSHIP - A man and his dog were killed in a fire early Friday morning at 7163 Beaver Road.
Neither the Ashtabula County Coroner's Office nor the Andover Fire Department released the victim's name Saturday pending DNA identification, but family members identified him as Jesse Hodge, 21, of Greenville, Pa. Sue Hodge said her son was staying with his twin brother, Justin, when the fire occurred.
Rich Mongell, coroner's investigator for the Ashtabula County Coroner's Office, said the results of an autopsy being conducted by the Cuyahoga County Sheriff's Office will not be available until Monday.
Photos courtesy of the Star Beacon
Peggy Sue Hodge reacts to the sight of the garage fire where her son, Jesse, perished early Friday morning. Terry White, a friend of the family, comforts Hodge, who lives in Greenville, Pa.
He said an important test result will be to evaluate carbon monoxide levels in the body. "To make sure he died of carbon monoxide (poisoning)," Mongell said.
A DNA test will be used to finalize the identity of the victim, which could take as long as a month, Mongell said.
Firefighters from Andover, Kinsman, Fallowfield, Wayne, North Shenango, Jamestown, Conneaut Lake and Summit battled the blaze early Friday morning, said Andover Fire Chief James Dewey.
"As far as I know the state fire marshal's office has not determined the cause," he said. Dewey said there wasn't very much of the home left to make an evaluation from.
Dewey said there are counselors available for any firefighters struggling with emotional issues following a fatal fire. He said department leaders keep an eye on the volunteers and talk to people one on one if they feel it is necessary.
"Everybody deals with it differently," he said.
Justin's girlfriend, Nicole Meehan, told the Star Beacon that she and Justin were asleep about 5 a.m. when they were awakened by Nicole's sister, who was staying in a room above the garage. Justin Hodge and Meehan got out, but Justin Hodge went back to look for his brother, Meehan's sister and Jesse's pit bull, she said.
Meehan's sister, Amanda, was treated for burns and flown to MetroHealth Medical Center in Cleveland.
"She was laying right in front of the garage door when Justin found her," Nicole said. "She was coherent, but he had to pull her out."
"(Justin) went back in and tried to find Jesse, but he couldn't find him," Nicole said. She said Justin received burns but refused to be transported for treatment.
A body was found in the burned-out garage and was sent to Cleveland for an autopsy. A DNA sample was taken from Justin Hodge for help in identifying the body.
Rob Vickery, assistant fire chief for the Andover Volunteer Fire Department, said they had to use a water shuttle to fight the fire. The garage portion of the building had already collapsed by the time the firefighters arrived.
Several of the family members said Jesse's trademark was his smile. He and Justin were twins, and they turned 21 on Feb. 15.
"At least God gave him 21 years," Peggy Sue Hodge said.
Jesse was unemployed and looking for work, she said.
Peggy Sue Hodge said she remembers Jesse as a young man who loved to play basketball and enjoyed raising pit bulls. She said both her son and the young dog, Vegas, would be cremated.
"And the dog is going to stay with him," she said.
Dillaway and Feather write for the Star Beacon in Ashtabula.