By DAVID GREEN
A memorial service is planned Sunday evening to remember two Morenci area teens who died in a house fire early Saturday morning.
Johnathan Pike, 18, a resident of the home at 333 East St. S., and Chelsey Sedlacek, 15, of rural Sand Creek, were unable to escape from the blazing structure and were located by firefighters after the fire was controlled.
Four other family members were treated first at Fulton County Health Center and later at St. Vincent hospital in Toledo.
Pike’s step-father, Rick Delaney, 40, and his brothers Matt Delaney, 19, Chris Delaney, 17, and Robert Delaney, 12, were treated for various reasons, including smoke inhalation and burns.
All were discharged, although Robert returned to the hospital and remains at St. Vincent.
Pike’s mother, Penny, and younger brother Jay, escaped without injury, along with Matthew Wilson, an overnight guest.
Johnathan’s aunt, Robin Pike, credited Matt Delaney with rousing occupants and helping them to safety.
“He’s the one who saved the others,” she said.
Dan Shaffer, a neighbor of the Delaneys, heard loud voices and saw flames in the windows of the house. He called 911 and the Morenci Fire Department was dispatched at 3:16 a.m. Trucks were en route by 3:22, said fire chief Chad Schisler and they arrived at the scene at 3:25.
A department member who lives nearby was at the scene within two or three minutes, Schisler said, and learned that seven of the nine occupants had escaped.
The fire had spread throughout the house by the time the fire department arrived, Schisler said, with flames coming out the front door, from underneath the front porch and showing in windows on the front and south side of the second story of the wooden structure.
Crews tried to make their way through the front and back doors and into the second story in two locations, Schisler said, in an effort to reach the two victims still in the house.
Schisler was thankful for the assistance by Morenci police chief Larry Weeks who handled the investigation and interviewing of residents and contacted the city supervisor and building inspector for assistance. A Red Cross representative and a state fire marshal were on the scene long before firefighters left shortly after 8 a.m.
Fire departments from Hudson, Fayette, Wauseon, Lyons, Clayton, and Fairfield Township played various roles in the effort, Schisler said.
Chief Weeks said a lot of work remains before a determination of cause is issued by the fire marshal. At this point, he said, there’s nothing to indicate the blaze was of a suspicious nature.
Considering the extent of the fire when the occupants were awakened, Weeks said he’s amazed and thankful there weren’t additional victims.
Schisler was told that most of those who made it out escaped through windows.
Counselors assist grieving students
The hallways and cafeteria were strangely quiet Tuesday at Morenci Area High School, the first day of classes since sophomore Chelsey Sedlacek and 2007 graduate Johnathan Pike died in a house fire.
Pastors, counselors and the county school social worker were on hand to speak with students who were mourning the loss, said counselor Diana Fallot.
“We did OK,” she said. “We weren’t overwhelmed, but we kept busy. The teachers were great. They gave students the opportunity to talk about the situation or to write a letter.”
In some cases staff members approached a student who appeared to be in need and asked if they wanted to talk to someone.
She’s heard several students trying to place blame for the tragedy—a common reaction springing from their grief.
“Blame doesn’t change things,” she said.
Counselors are trying to get students to understand that a tragedy can either “make us stronger or bring us down.”
Fallot said many people want to help the Delaneys who have lost their house and possessions, and they’ve felt frustrated without a clear path to assist.
That situation is changing.
Financial donations can be taken to United Bank and Trust where they will be placed in the Delaney’s account.
Robin Pike, a relative of the Delaneys, is accepting donations of furniture and household items. She’ll store items in her garage at 8216 W. Weston Rd. until the family is in a new home. They’re currently staying in a hotel through arrangements with the American Red Cross.
“Everyone has been really wonderful,” Robin said. “A lot of people have called and given their concern.”