Elderly Woman Dies in Niles Fire

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An elderly Niles woman died Tuesday afternoon after being trapped in her burning home at 19 Ohio Ave.

The fire broke out just after noon, and neighbors outside enjoying the weather noticed something was wrong and called 911.

“When I looked over, I noticed some smoke coming out of the chimney. Then when I looked at the vent on the side of the house, there was smoke coming out of it,” said neighbor David Petrilla.

He said he and fellow neighbor Angela Vincent, who just came home for lunch, called 911

“I told them to make sure they know somebody could be in the house, hoping that would get them here quicker,” Vincent said.

Fearing the worst that Sally Spelich, 70, was still inside, both sprang into action.

“And then I tried to get in there, but I couldn’t get in the door cause of the smoke and heat,” Petrilla said.

Firefighters arrived  just a couple of minutes later to battle the flames and see if the elderly woman was inside.

“When we searched the residence, we found a lady lying in the kitchen. It appears she tried to put the fire out herself, the sink water was running. We found her on the floor in front of the sink overcome by smoke,” said Niles Fire Department arson investigator Lt. Rodney Freel.

Firefighters worked to revive Spelich at the scene before she was taken to the hospital where she died from her injuries.  Neighbors said Spelich will be missed.

“She is adorable. She is this adorable little older lady and she is as sweet as can be,” Vincent said.

Firefighters pulled burned up couches and chairs out of the home, and believe the fire started in the living room.

Freel said the cause of the fire has not yet been determined, but it does not appear suspicious. He said samples have been sent to the state fire lab for analysis.

Fire officials said the home had no working smoke detectors.

It was the third fatal fire in four days in the area.

On Saturday night, Justin Kidd, 20, died in a house fire just before midnight on Pricetown Road in Goshen Township. He was found in the basement, and three other family members escaped unharmed. The cause of that fire also still remains under investigation, but firefighters said it may have been electrical.

Also late Saturday night, Richard Baglier, 65, died in a fire at his mobile home in the Four Seasons Mobile Home Park in Vienna Township. Fire officials believe Baglier may have been smoking in bed, but they are awaiting autopsy results to confirm that.

No evidence of smoke detectors were found in Baglier’s trailer, officials said.

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