CORTLAND, Ohio (AP) - Two house fires in northeast Ohio killed a
mother and her three sons and two people in their 60s.
The woman and her sons, including 4-year-old twins, died in a
fire that started shortly before 3 a.m. Thursday in a house in
nearby Fowler Township, the Trumbull County sheriff's office said.
Nearly 20 miles south in Youngstown, a man and a woman died a
fire that started about 10 p.m. Wednesday, fire Battalion Chief Tim
McGarry said. He said Thursday there was no connection between the
fires.
Cybil Madden, 69, and Brian Christian, 62, were pulled from the
top floor of the two-story home, he said. Autopsies were ordered.
Investigators did not yet know what started the fire, which
caused about $10,000 worth of damage, McGarry said.
The state Fire Marshal's office will investigate the Fowler
Township fire, which destroyed the two-story home about 50 miles
southeast of Cleveland. The fire marshal's office, which helps
local agencies investigate major fires, includes a forensic
laboratory and a fire and explosion investigation bureau.
The victims were Stephanie Vorce, 28, and her sons, 8-year-old
Trent and 4-year-old Tyler and Taylor, authorities said.
Vorce's boyfriend, Mark Woodyard, escaped the fire and alerted
his neighbors, Mike Choleva and his son, Jonathan.
"I ran up the front steps and didn't even make it past the
porch," said Jonathan Choleva, 20. "There were flames pretty much
everywhere."
Choleva and his father broke a window to try to get into the
house, but they were pushed back by smoke.
"I felt helpless," Mike Choleva said. "I never seen anything
like this, especially with little children in the home. The house
went up so quickly."
Eleven departments assisted the volunteer Fowler Fire
Department, and one firefighter was treated at the scene for minor
injuries.
Jonathan Choleva and his wife had just left the couple's home
after celebrating the new year by watching a movie and were still
awake when Woodyard banged on the door.
"We paused (the movie) to watch the ball drop," he said. "We
just finished watching the movie and went home."
Woodyard was checked at a hospital and went to his parents'
home, Choleva said.

(Copyright 2004 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)