YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio (WKBN) – It is a story that left a lasting impression on the Valley — three people were tragically killed in a house fire on Powers Way in Youngstown.
Robert Seman is now facing the death penalty, accused of setting the fire on March 30, 2015 that killed Bill and Judy Schmidt and their granddaughter, 10-year-old Corinne Gump. Gump was set to testify against Seman in court that very day in Seman’s rape trial.
One year after the fire, Youngstown firefighters can still recall the smallest details of what happened that morning. And though, in the end, three people died, it was not for the lack of effort by the firemen.
“We had guys at this fire taking risks that we maybe normally do not take… and they put themselves at serious risk, and they did a hell of a job,” said Youngstown Battalion Chief Gary DiTullio.
DiTullio, Youngstown Fire Capt. Perry Harrison and Lt. Chris Brown responded to the fire. The initial reports were of explosions and people in the house, some of whom were deaf.
“I remember on my way to this call saying that this was not going to be a good situation here,” said DiTullio.
Harrison was on the first truck to show up.
“There was so much fire when we got on the scene. There was no way we could enter the house without a fast knockdown,” he said.
Upon entering the home, the stairwell gave way under Harrison, throwing him down the steps and into a hole. He was later treated for his injuries.
Once the men were able to get into the home, they found the Schmidts and Corinne Gump.
Neighbor Jean McCammon, who lives across the street from where the home once stood, said she can still see fire shooting out of the basement window and remembers hearing the explosion.
The home was demolished late last year, and now all that remains of Bill and Judy Schmidt’s home is the garage and the small memorial.
“A year ago today, they were still living. The fire hadn’t been started yet,” McCammon said.
A sign was put up at the home a few months ago on what would have been Corinne’s birthday, and the flowers and crosses were placed in the area on Easter. McCammon got flowers for the family and said she plans on putting them in front of the tree in the yard Wednesday.
McCammon called Corinne Gump a “precious child.”
“If I turned right now, I could probably picture her on her bicycle,” she said.
Family and friends will gather at the spot Wednesday night, on the anniversary of their deaths, to remember Bill, Judy and Corrine.
As far as the trial against Robert Seman, it is supposed to begin in September.