5 people found dead in debris of Dayton house fire

Crews order emergency demolition after massive North Broadway Street fire.

DAYTON — A total of five people’s bodies have been found Wednesday in the debris of a vacant North Broadway Street house that caught fire almost 15 hours earlier.

The first body was discovered Wednesday morning after Dayton Fire Department crews extinguished the fire at the large two-story house and had begun working on an emergency demolition due to the structural instability of the building.

The fire was reported around 4 a.m. in the 500 block of North Broadway Street near West Riverview Avenue and just north of Wolf Creek.

Responding crews could see heavy smoke from a mile away and on arrival began to make an aggressive interior search but had to back out due to intense fire and concerns about a collapse, said Deputy Chief Mike Rice of the Dayton Fire Department.

“We were pulled out very quickly, within a few minutes, because of the heavy fire conditions,” he said. “In the back of the structure we had fire on all floors and in the basement and we could not continue our search.”

Because of the building’s collapse during the fire, it is not clear on which floor the first deceased person found had been.

Crews also called two cadaver dogs to search for any other possible victims, Rice said.

“A second deceased victim was located under heavy debris,” a news release issued around 5:45 p.m. Wednesday from the Dayton Fire Capt. Brad French stated. “Extensive search operations are still ongoing within the collapsed portions of the structure.”

A third body was recovered around 6:45 p.m., according to emergency scanner reports, and two more were found after that. The Montgomery County Coroner’s Office later Wednesday night confirmed the morgue had received five deceased people from the North Broadway Street fire.

In a release issued at 9:45 p.m., the fire department called the fire “one of the most tragic fire incidents for loss of life in the history of the City of Dayton.”

The release said that fire personnel had been working for 18 hours, but that the scene remained active and crews would continue to search “as long as necessary as long as necessary to ensure that all collapsed areas are fully accessed for search and investigative purposes.”

The house where the bodies were found was vacant and had not had gas service since 2013. However, neighbors reported seeing people going in and out of the building.

The five whose bodies were pulled from the debris have not been identified. The coroner’s office will work to determine their cause and manner of death.

Dayton Police Department homicide detectives also are investigating the deaths, and the cause of the fire remains under investigation.

An adjacent house also caught fire and was destroyed. Crews ordered an emergency demolition of that house as well, and a third house sustained damage.

One firefighter suffered a minor injury during operations and was evaluated at the scene, French said.

Anyone with information regarding this fire is urged to contact the DFD Fire Investigation Unit at 937-333-TIPS (8477).

Earlier fatal fire

A 71-year-old woman died Sunday night following a house fire in the 300 block of Ashwood Avenue in Dayton.

Darlene Alston’s death was the first fire fatality of the year in the city. Her grandson Marquan Johnson said that Monday would have been her 72nd birthday.

Alston’s death remains under investigation by the county coroner’s office, and the cause of that fire also is under investigation.