Fire destroys family home in Sylvan Beach

Published Jan 3, 2018 at 12:00pm

VILLAGE OF SYLVAN BEACH – The family of a Sylvan Beach firefighter lost their home in a fire on a frigid Tuesday morning.

Authorities said the family of five lost most of their possessions. The cause of the fire remains under investigation.

Firefighter Steven Reinertsen was the only one home at 508 20th Ave. when he discovered the smoke and flames in the upstairs of his residence, fire officials said. Reinertsen fled the residence and called 9-1-1 at 10:21 a.m.

“He smelled smoke and saw the flames upstairs,” said Fire Chief Rick Johnson. Volunteers from seven departments responded to the scene.

“There was fire coming out of one of the upstairs windows and smoke coming out of the other windows,” Johnson described.

A team of four firefighters was sent inside and battled the fire directly, he stated. But the residence had several roofs and a crawl space, making it difficult to find all of the flames.

“We had to do a lot of cutting,” Johnson said. “It was back and forth trying to find the fire.”

The fire was declared under control in an hour and 10 minutes, the chief said. They were able to maintain an interior attack, with some assistance from the outside. Despite temperatures hovering around zero degrees and below, the chief said the hydrants did not freeze over. He could not say the same about the apparatus and gear.

“Our gear, it was solid,” Johnson stated. The buckles on their airpacks froze over and needed to be thawed before they could be taken off. The chief said he had to rotate volunteers and trucks so that they could warm back up.

No one was injured in the fire. Johnson said he did not know if the family had insurance. They believe the fire started in the second floor and an exact cause is under investigation, he noted.

Because Reinertsen is a member of the Sylvan Beach Fire Department, the chief said, “It hits a little close to home for everybody” when fighting the fire.

The American Red Cross is assisting the family with shelter, food and clothing. There are two adults and three children, ages 4, 8 and 10 in the Reinertsen family. A GoFundMe.com page has been set up in their name to raise money for recovery.

The Sylvan Beach, North Bay, Vienna, Taberg, McConnellsville, Durhamville and Verona fire departments responded to the scene, with Florence and Cleveland on standby.