2 firefighters die battling Ohio blaze

April 4, 2008 11:01:02 AM PDT
Two firefighters who got trapped in the basement of a house while battling a fire died Friday, officials said. The firefighters may have fallen through the floor, said fire Capt. Steve Conn. The home is located in Colerain Township just west of Cincinnati.

"We are not sure if it was a floor collapse or a stairwell collapsed," Conn said.

Fire broke out shortly after 6 a.m. at the two-story, four-bedroom house, he said.

Two occupants of the home escaped before firefighters arrived. But because of the early hour, firefighters automatically assume people could still be inside and go in to search while trying to extinguish the blaze, Conn said.

Supervisors lost contact with the firefighters around 6:45 a.m. Officials say they found an unmanned hose, but the pair were not there.

The bodies of Capt. Robin Broxterman, 37, and Brian Schira, 29, were found in the basement. They were members of Colerain Township Engine Company 102.

As ambulances carrying the bodies drove slowly down the long driveway from the house, firefighters took off their helmets and bowed their heads. Some patted the ambulances as they went past.

The cause of the fire was unknown. The State Fire Marshal's office sent five investigators to the scene, said spokesman Shane Cartmill.

In northwest Ohio, a fire that destroyed a house trailer just before dawn Friday killed a family of five, including an infant boy and two other children, authorities said.

The trailer's kitchen area was engulfed and the rest of the home was filled with smoke, said policeman Matt Purdy, the first person to arrive at the house after the fire began about 4:30 a.m. There were no sounds coming from inside the trailer, he said.

"I kicked the (front) door with everything I had, but I couldn't get in," he said.

Four investigators from the State Fire Marshal's Office were in Ada to determine the fire's cause, Cartmill said. Officials found that a rear exit to the home was blocked by furniture and other household items, he said.

Ada is about 70 miles northwest of Columbus.