Akron Beacon Journal
Authorities say there were no working smoke detectors in a home that caught on fire in Akron’s North Hill area, killing 5 people and injuring 4 others.
The Ohio State Fire Marshal’s office was not able to determine the cause of the fire, but said there are no signs of foul play.
“There’s no evidence that the fire was intentionally set, but the cause remains undetermined at this time given the significant damage to the home,” spokesperson Jennifer Jarrell said.
On Sept. 13, the home on Linden Avenue near the intersection of Birchwood Avenue caught on fire. Two Bhutanese families were living there at the time.
Dal Subba, 60, Phip Subba, 48, Prena Subba, 16, Smile Subba, 11, and Parisa Limbu Khajum, 5, died in the fire. Three adults and a child also were injured.
Dal and Phip Subba owned the and lived there with their two daughters, Prena and Parisa. Family members said Smile and his family were living in the house temporarily and were planning to move to Cuyahoga Falls.
Akron firefighters responded to the home at about 12:50 a.m. Akron Fire Lt. Sierjie Lash said the home was engulfed in flames when firefighters arrived. A neighbor told the Beacon Journal that she woke up that night to see flames stretching from her neighbor’s home to hers.
Four people were taken to local hospitals and recovered. The other five victims were found inside the home.
Cause Ruled Undetermined, Investigation Doesn’t Find Cause
Jarrell said investigators weren’t able to determine an exact cause in the fatal fire.
The cause will remain undetermined unless there’s new evidence. She said the extensive damage to the home made it hard to determine how the fire started.
While they can’t rule out all other causes, Jarrell said that discarded smoking materials “can’t be ruled out as a possible contributing factor.”
Jarrell said the fire started on the front porch.
The Beacon Journal has requested the fire incident report from the city of Akron.
Smoke Detectors Weren’t in the Home When it Caught on Fire
Lash and the state Fire Marshal’s Office confirmed that firefighters found no smoke detectors in the home and said the fire wasn’t being looked at as suspicious.
After the fire, Greater Akron Hindu Sewa Samittee President Mahananda Luitel had posted a video on the group’s Facebook page, highlighting the need for smoke detectors and checking them for batteries.
He said it was important in the aftermath to get that message out there, adding many people in the refugee community don’t see educational content in their own language.
“This fire incident should not go unnoticed,” Luitel said at the time. “We have to educate our people.”
Lash said the fire department did fire safety demonstrations recently for Fire Prevention Week and wants to do them for every community in the city. The department had recently done a demonstration for the Karen community, another immigrant population in Akron, she said.
Multiple fundraisers were started for the family after the fire. Between two GoFundMe pages, about $40,000 was raised.
Reach reporter Sean McDonnell at 330-996-3186 or firstname.lastname@example.org.