Victims in Portsmouth fire identified

Published 12:00 am Saturday, July 19, 2008

Associated Press

PORTSMOUTH (AP) — Fire officials have identified the four people whose bodies were found in a burning home early Friday.

The victims were Colby Lynch, 41, and Sandi Schalit, 53, both of Portsmouth; and Lea Ann Woods, 53, of Westerville, officials said. A child was identified as Meyleigh Snipes, also of Westerville. The child’s age and the relationships of the victims were not immediately known, fire officials said.

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The victims were found inside the smoke-damaged home in the city’s downtown, Fire Chief Bill Raison said. They were taken to Southern Ohio Medical Center, where they were pronounced dead.

Fire officials said earlier that the house had no working smoke detectors, but state fire marshal spokesman Matt Mullins said Friday afternoon that investigators have not yet determined whether the detectors were working at the time of the fire.

Investigators also were trying to determine what started the fire.

Mullins said investigators determined that the fire started on the first floor of the two-story, single-family home.

Police officers patrolling the city’s east end said they smelled the smoke.

‘‘They could smell it but couldn’t see it, couldn’t tell where it was coming from,’’ Raison said. ‘‘At some point during the course of that, the fire actually broke out a window of the house. And then, they called and notified us.’’