NILES - Longtime city resident Sarah Spelich, 70, died Tuesday after her house caught fire. Hers was the second fire-related death in the last four days.
Neighbor David Petrilla said he called 911 early Tuesday afternoon when he realized the Ohio Avenue house was on fire. Next, he tried to help the woman get out but said the fire was too hot.
"I tried getting in through the enclosed porch in the front. I was on my knees trying to get in. But the window popped and these flames came shooting through," he said. "There was just too much fire and too much smoke. Glass blew everywhere. I couldn't do anything."
Tribune Chronicle photos / Virginia Shank
Joseph Spelich surveys damage at his 19 Ohio Ave., Niles, home that caught fire Tuesday afternoon. Emergency crews rescued his wife, Sarah Spelich, 70, and revived her at the scene, but she passed away later at St. Joseph Health Center. A cause of death is pending.
Later, Petrilla shook his head and said he was praying Spelich survived.
Niles fire Lt. Mike Hudzik said rescue crews worked at the scene to revive Spelich, who suffered smoke inhalation. She was taken to St. Joseph Health Center.
Her daughter-in-law, Norma Spelich, said the family was advised to get to the hospital as soon as possible Tuesday afternoon.
"We were told they had to revive her twice," she said prior to news that Spelich had died.
She heard about the fire from her daughter, who works at St. Joe's.
Sarah Spelich's husband, Joseph, was not at the couple's home at 19 Ohio Ave. when fire broke out just after noon. He arrived at the house later to survey the damage.
"I just can't believe this," he said as he walked through the heavily damaged house. "We've been here over 40 years."
Investigators said the fire started in the living room and the woman tried to extinguish it herself. Firefighters found the woman in the kitchen. Hudzik said flames were contained to two rooms.
"It's a good thing it was during the day and someone saw it," Hudzik said. "If it had been at night it could have been even worse."
Spelich's was the second Trumbull County resident to die following a fire recently.
Richard Baglier, 65, died of smoke inhalation after his Vienna home caught fire at 15 Lakewood in the Four Seasons Mobile Home Park late Saturday.
Baglier's body was found inside the home. Trumbull County Coroner Dr. Humphrey Germaniuk said the cause of death was smoke inhalation but that he is awaiting reports from the State Fire Marshal to complete his own report.