Investigators continue to search for the cause of a fire Monday, May 30 (Memorial Day) morning at a Newcomerstown residence that claimed the lives of a 27-year-old woman and her 10-year-old son.
The victims were identified as Rachael Speicher and Brandon Speicher, according to the Tuscarawas County Coroner, who performed autopsies on the individuals.
The fatal blaze, located at 537 Mulvane St., remained under investigation by the Newcomerstown Fire Department and Ohio Fire Marshal's Office.
The fire was reported at approximately 7:20 a.m. to 9-1-1, a call placed by the occupants of the home.
Newcomerstown Fire Chief Bobby McGarry said when the fire department arrived on scene, approximately 5 minutes after the initial call, half of the house was already engulfed in flames.
Two investigators from the state fire marshal's office returned to the scene last Tuesday to continue the investigation.
"Investigators have determined the fire originated in one of the home's bedrooms; the cause of the fire has not yet been determined," said Shane Cartmill, public information officer for the Ohio State Fire Marshal's Office.
State fire marshal investigators are working with the Tuscarawas County Sheriff's Office to conduct additional interviews with witnesses, first responders and family members.
The 1 1/2-story wood frame home sustained extensive fire, smoke and water damage.
The home was equipped with a smoke alarm, but it had no battery.
In all, six individuals reportedly lived at the rental home. Three occupants were able to escape the blaze and the fourth occupant spent the night at another home.
No damage estimate was available for the residence but McGarry believes the home is a complete loss.
The deaths are the 59th and 60th fire-related fatalities reported this year in Ohio.
"It was just a terrible accident," McGarry said. "I feel bad for the family and this community,"
The fire department will make stress debriefing teams, which include chaplains and others trained to deal with fatalities, available to those firefighters and first responders who were on the scene.
West Elementary School, where Brandon was a fourth grade student, released balloons in his memory on Thursday, June 2. Grief counselors were also available at the school for teachers and students alike.
McGarry said this fatality was the first multiple fatality in the village in several decades.
The Newcomerstown Fire Department was assisted at the scene by the Delaware Valley Fire Department (Port Washington) and Stone Creek Volunteer Fire Department.
(Editor's Note: A benefit dinner is planned for the family to cover final expenses on Sunday, July 24 from noon to ? at 5614 Route 258, Newcomerstown. The covered dish gathering is to celebrate the lives of Rachael and Brandon. There will be a 50/50 drawing, cornhole tournament, raffle drawing, etc. Anyone wanting to donate, an account is set-up at Century National Bank, c/o Rachael and Brandon Speicher. For information about the benefit or to donate, call (330) 365-6958 and ask for Shellie or (330) 663-1867 and ask for Brenda.)