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UPDATE: Investigation Continues into Deadly House Fire Believed Caused by Fireworks

By: WSAZ News Staff Email
By: WSAZ News Staff Email
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UPDATE 7/18/14 @ 1:30 p.m.
LAWRENCE COUNTY, Ohio (WSAZ) -- The Lawrence County, Ohio Prosecutor tells that he has received a preliminary report from the Ohio State Fire Marshal's Office concerning a deadly fire that was believed to have been started by fireworks

Leo, 78, and Betty Sayre, 76, of Proctorville were killed after their house caught fire.

The fire happened at the couple’s house on Zola Drive in Rome Township at about 1:30 a.m. on July 5.

Witnesses told investigators that Mr. Sayre came out of the home, but went back inside to rescue his wife who was bedridden.

Investigators believe hot embers from illegal aerial fireworks fell onto the back of the house and started the fire.

Prosecutor Brigham Anderson says investigators are still compiling evidence, and he does not have any further details at this time.

Anderson says he's still waiting for the full report. Once he receives that report, and if there's sufficient evidence, he will submit the case to a grand jury.

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UPDATE 7/7/14 @ 6:05 p.m.
LAWRENCE COUNTY, Ohio (WSAZ) -- Investigators with the Ohio State Fire Marshal's office were back at the scene of a deadly fire Monday.

Leo and Betty Sayre were killed when their house caught fire early Saturday morning. Investigators believe the fire may have been started by illegal fireworks.

"We believe it could have contributed to the fire," Assistant Ohio State Fire Marshal Josh Hobbs said. "{We} believe it's highly likely it contributed to the fire. However, we're not to that point of committing ourselves to that at this point."

Hobbs says fireworks were found in the area of the fire, but he says tracking down the exact cause of the fire won't be easy.

"What you have going on is various winds directions that night," Hobbs said. "You have fireworks being set off in several locations, and so what were trying to do is do the best job of covering that as we can."

Investigators spoke with residents and searched nearby fields where there were reports of fireworks going off the night of the fire. Investigators even brought in a K-9 unit in hopes of finding some clues.

"The K-9 is an explosive detection K-9," Hobbs said. "So, anything with any nitrate residue, it could be fireworks, a shell casing, or it can be explosive."

The search has yet to come up with anything solid. Investigators say this entire tragedy is proof that even though fireworks can be fun, they can also be deadly.

"This does show the inherent dangers of doing so unless you're licensed and understand wind directions, and angling mortars and tubes and things like that," Hobbs said.

Investigators are gathering all of the evidence, and will forward that onto the Lawrence County Prosecutor. It will then be up to that office on whether or not to move forward with a criminal investigation.

UPDATE 7/5/14 @ 4:05 p.m.
LAWRENCE COUNTY, Ohio (WSAZ) -- A fire that caused the deaths of an elderly couple is now under investigation in Proctorville, Ohio.

According to the Division of State Fire Marshal's Fire and Explosion Bureau, the fire happened about 1:30 a.m. on Zola Drive in Rome Township.

Witnesses told investigators that the man came out of the home, but went back inside to rescue his wife who was bedridden.

The fire is believed to have been caused by the illegal use of 1.4g fireworks in the area. Investigators believe hot embers from the illegal aerial fireworks fell into the back of the house.

Debris from the fireworks has been found in the neighborhood, and more evidence is being collected.

"Fireworks can be dangerous if you are not trained to properly set them off," said State Fire Marshal Larry Flowers. "Only licensed professionals should be setting off fireworks. There is great risk not only to yourself, but as in this case, to others around you."

This is being handled as a criminal investigation. Investigators want to hear from anyone who saw something out of the ordinary at or around the time of the fire, or who may have heard someone speaking about the fire with an unusual level of interest or knowledge.

Anyone with information is asked to call the State Fire Marshal's Fire & Explosion Investigation Bureau at 1-800-589-2728.

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PROCTORVILLE, OHIO (WSAZ) -- A husband and wife are dead after a fire at their home on Zola Drive in Proctorville, Ohio early Saturday morning.

According to the Rome Township Fire Department, both people died at the scene.

Officials believe fireworks are what started the fire.

The names of the victims have not been released.

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