Hamilton County fire investigators have now released the name of a woman killed in a blaze in North College Hill early Wednesday morning. Meanwhile, samples of debris from the fire, which also injured a firefighter, have been sent to a lab to test for possible accelerants.
Crews were called to the Phoenician Town Homes on West Galbraith near Kleindale Avenue just before 1:30 a.m. Two women and two children were in the home at the time of the fire.
Linda Walker and her five and 10 year old children jumped from a second story window to escape the fire.
Firefighters saw the second woman, 29 year old Jamie Scales, in the window and put the ladder up to reach her. Scales was handicapped and was living with her Walker, who is her sister. Firefighter Chris Arnold was on the ladder trying to help the woman when a flashover from the first floor sent heat and fire up to the second floor, burning both the woman and Arnold.
Crews lost sight of Scales, who was later found on the second floor next to the window, dead.
Walker and the children were taken to Mercy Mount Airy hospital for evaluation. They were later released later and are now staying with relatives. Firefighter Arnold was taken to University Hospital for treatment of second degree burns on his hand. He was later released.
Hamilton County Arson Task Force investigators have issued a preliminary report declaring the cause of the fire to be "undetermined". Samples of debris have been sent to the lab for detection of any potential accelerants and interviews continue to be conducted with the apartment's occupants, neighbors and bystanders. Labeling the cause as undetermined leaves the investigators options when pursuing any leads they may have in determining a final cause, up to and including possible criminal charges.
Investigators also say they couldn't locate any working smoke detectors in the apartment. Neighbors and witnesses have also stated that the occupants may have been using candles to light the apartment since the electric service had been discontinued by the utility company.
Crews from Colerain, Greenhills, Springfield Township, and Mount Healthy helped to fight this fire.