CLEVELAND, Ohio (WJW) – About 80 firefighters were called to a triple 4-alarm fire that spread to multiple homes and garages in Cleveland Thursday evening.
The flames damaged or destroyed five homes and a dozen vehicles.
High winds fueled the spread from house to house, and miraculously no one was hurt.
“What am I going to do? That’s pretty much my whole life,” said Louis Walford, Jr, who lived in the home where the fire started.
Walford could only watch as Cleveland firefighters poured water onto what was left of his home on Mannering Road in Cleveland’s South Collinwood neighborhood just before 5 p.m.
“I was in the house relaxing and I heard a big boom and when I came outside, my front porch was on fire and the upstairs of the porch, so I immediately went and woke everybody up in the house,” he said.
Walford says he called the fire department and by the time they arrived, his house was fully engulfed in flames.
“Whenever you get a lot of wind like this and you have a working structure fire, it really intensifies it. This house caught fire and actually caught the two houses next to it, two exposure houses, so we had a total of five structures, two garages and about a dozen vehicles,” said Chief Angelo Calvillo, Cleveland Division of Fire.
Flames jumped to Taishawna Wright’s house next door. Firefighters had rescued one of her dogs, Pablo. She and her boyfriend made it out safely, but when we spoke to her, she was worried about whether her other dog survived.
“There he is! Chico,” she explained as a firefighter walked out of the burning home with her other dog.
“I was asleep and my girl, she came and woke me up. I saw the outside of the kitchen window on fire, then we were running down the hallway stairs and there were droplets of fire on the stairs as we were running down and the house was engulfed with smoke,” said her boyfriend Clifton Brandy, Jr.
Nancy Garnett-Smith, who lives to the left of the home where the fire started, says she was home nursing a broken ankle.
“To tell you honestly, honey, I don’t know if I jumped all of them steps. I’m sitting on the couch and, all of a sudden, I heard an explosion, like something hit something, then the way the living room is situated, I seen extra debris outside of the living room window and so when I hopped up, I heard people yelling,” said Garnett-Smith.
“My whole life, all my tools, all my everything, gone,” said Walford.
Even though several residents say they heard an explosion, the fire chief says investigators are still trying to figure out what caused the fire.
The flames also damaged two houses behind the home that initially caught fire.
Firefighters say they also had to shut off water to channel to the hydrants at the scene because they needed so much water.