By MORGAN MANNS
Dozens of area firefighters spent more than 12 hours at the scene of a deadly fire Thursday that claimed a family of five.
The family has identified the five victims as James Rainey, 45; Jodi Depinet-Rainey, 41; Austin Rainey, 19; Cody Rainey, 15; and Jessica Rainey, 7. Their death notices appear on page A5 of today’s Review Times.
While crews worked tirelessly to extinguish the blaze that began around 3:46 a.m. at 10331 W. Ohio 18, help poured in from Fostoria, Seneca County and the surrounding communities to support the first responders.
Bascom fire Chief Mark DeVault wouldn’t list the names of all the businesses for fear of leaving one out; however, he said everything from food to coffee to porta john’s to heat were provided for the roughly 50 individuals on scene.
According to witnesses and published reports, Bob Evans, McDonald’s, Fostoria Pizza Palace, the Fostoria Eagles #430, Bugner’s Sewer and Septic Cleaning, Midwood, Posey Excavating Inc., Seneca County Area Transportation, Bascom Carry Out and Sauber’s Stumble Inn were a few of the entities that offered the assistance they could Thursday.
“Help came from clear across the whole county,” DeVault said. “They asked ‘Can we do anything for you?’ We got a lot of support. You don’t know how to say thanks for all of the things they do for us.”
DeVault said the ladies’ auxiliary brought dinner to the Bascom station Thursday night and Firelands Counseling and Recovery Services provided a debriefing for first responders who lost one of their own in the devastating blaze.
Austin Rainey was a cadet firefighter with Bascom Joint Fire District. His body was draped in an American flag and escorted from the scene by his fire family.
“He was young and full of energy,” DeVault said of the cadet who had worked with the fire district for more than one year. “He was great and very dedicated. I’d like to have a whole department like him.”
Bascom crews discussed the events that had unfolded during their debriefing and spoke with counselors who informed them of other avenues available to them if they need to further decompress.
DeVault said his personnel are “doing tremendous for what they’ve been through;” but that he’ll keep an eye on them throughout the next several days and weeks.
“I haven’t seen them at rest yet. We’ve been working at the scene and maybe for some of them it hasn’t hit yet,” he said. “We’ll get through it.”
As the wind picked up, embers from piles of debris beside the residence rekindled overnight, according to DeVault. Bascom Joint Fire District was quickly able to put the flames out.
Bascom was at the scene again Friday supporting the State Fire Marshal’s office and the Bureau of Criminal Identification and Investigation in their search for evidence to pinpoint the cause and origin of the fire. A K-9 was also on scene to sniff for the presence of accelerants.
Officials have said the incident is not being investigated as a homicide.
The fire was reported around 3:46 a.m. Thursday. By the time the first units responded to the scene, authorities said the structure was fully immersed in flames. A call was placed for an exterior-only attack, as it was not safe for firefighters to go inside the home.
In addition, officials said the structural integrity of the home was compromised, which made it difficult for investigators to search for victims.
No update or further information was available at press time.
Seneca County and Bascom EMS, the Citizens Emergency Response Team (CERT), the Seneca County Sheriff’s Office and the American Red Cross assisted the seven fire departments on scene Thursday, including New Riegel, Kansas, Old Fort, Bloomville, Attica and Fostoria.
The Fostoria Fire Department will offer a similar debriefing at 11 a.m. today for its own personnel as well as other firefighters, EMTs and law enforcement who were at the scene or impacted by the incident.
According to interim Chief Brian Herbert, a team will come in as well as other firefighters who have gone through similar situations to sit down and talk with the guys.
“Firefighters are stubborn people. It’s easier for us to open up to other firefighters than it is to speak to someone in a white coat,” he said. “We strongly encourage our guys to sit down and talk because we go to these types of scenarios over and over and over so much that it just builds up over time and eventually it will overwhelm you.”