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Elderly couple dies in blaze

ROME TOWNSHIP — An elderly couple on Saturday died in an early morning house fire at 181 Zola Drive, Township Road 1173 in Proctorville.

Rome Fire Department Chief George Burnett said firefighters from his department arrived at the scene shortly after a 911 call was placed around 1:30 a.m. on Saturday.

A press release from the Ohio State Fire Marshal’s Office states the man came out of the home, but then went back inside to try to rescue his bedridden wife.

“The fire is still under investigation,” Barnett said. “We do know the point of origin and the cause of the fire are fireworks related.”

There were several people at different households shooting fireworks at the time of the fire, Barnett said, but the house that burned was not one.

Investigators believe hot embers from illegal aerial fireworks fell into combustible material next to the back of the residence.

“We collected evidence, canvassed the area and talked to neighbors,” Barnett said. “We do believe it was a 1.4 firework that started the fire. That type of firework can be purchased in Ohio, but not set off. Basically if a firework goes into the air and explodes it is illegal to shoot off in Ohio.”

The fire is being treated as a criminal investigation, according to the press release, and investigators are asking to hear from anyone who saw something out of the ordinary at or around the time of the fire or who may have heard someone speaking about the fire with an unusual level of interest or knowledge.

Anyone with information is asked to call the State Fire Marshal’s Fire and Explosion Investigation Bureau at 1-800-589-2728.