Final report from house fire presented 6.11

Written by David Green.

Just like family members said, there was a hero at work during the devastating house fire May 24 in Morenci.

A police investigation of the incident showed that Matthew Delaney made an admirable effort to save family members and guests.

“Matthew Delaney truly is a hero in this case,” Morenci Chief of Police Larry Weeks said. “He was awakened by screams and ran upstairs to rescue Robert, Chris and Matt Wilson.”

He helped those three escape the burning house by climbing out a window onto the porch roof and jumping to safety.

“Had it not been for him,” Weeks said, “we would have likely had more casualties.”

Delaney also tried to go back inside to save Johnathan Pike and Chelsey Sedlacek, Weeks said, but by then smoke and flames prevented him from entering the house.

The county medical examiner ruled that smoke inhalation was the primary cause of death for Pike and Sedlacek.

The two victims were in a room located above the living room where the fire is thought to have originated. Smoke and heat likely traveled up through vents and into that room, Weeks said.

The state fire marshal listed the cause of the fire as undetermined. The marshal didn’t rule out the presence of a candle as the cause, but he couldn’t make clear determination.

“We just don’t know,” Weeks said.

  • Front.little Ball
    Fayette's Demetrious Whiteside (left)Skylar Lester attempt to keep the ball from going out of bounds during Morenci's recent basketball tournament for fourth and fifth grade teams. Morenci's Andrew Schmidt stands by.
  • Front.tug
    MORENCI pep rallies generally end with a tug of war. The senior class entry, shown above, did not advance to the finals. Griffin Grieder, Alaina Webster, Kyle Long and Jazmin Smith are shown at the front of the rope, giving it their best effort.
  • Accident
    FAYETTE resident Patricia Stambaugh, 64, was declared dead on the scene of a single-vehicle accident Friday morning south of Morenci. Rescue units were called around 9 a.m., but as of Tuesday, law enforcement officers had not yet determined the time of the accident. According to Ohio State Highway Patrol, Stambaugh was driving west on U.S. 20 when her Chevrolet Malibu traveled off the north side of the road and down a steep embankment, coming to rest in Bean Creek (Tiffin River).
  • Athletic Fields
    SPORTS COMPLEX—Fayette’s outdoor athletic facilities will include three ball fields for summer recreation leagues at the southwest corner of the school. The baseball and softball fields, along with the running track, will be constructed on the east side of the school. Outdoor athletic fields were not part of the new school project from 2007, but voters approved a $1.4 million levy for a school addition and the sports fields last August. Both projects are scheduled to be complete by July 20.
  • Front.teacher Leading
    PRESCHOOL MUSIC—Fayette band director Jeffrey Dunford spends the last half hour of the day leading the full-day preschool class in musical activities. Additional photos are on page 7 of this week’s Observer.
  • Front.F.band
    TROMBONISTS Jake Myers (left) and Max Baker perform Friday at the annual Senior Citizens Luncheon at Fayette High School. The National Honor Society and the FFA chapter teamed up to serve a meal to area seniors and to provide musical entertainment. Both the school band and choir performed. Additional photos are on page 7 of this week’s Observer.
  • Front.poles
    MOVING EAST—Utility workers continue their slow progress east along U.S. 20 south of Morenci. New electrical poles are put in place before wiring is moved into place.

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