Electrical cause suspected in Reno blaze

RENO, Ohio – A possible electrical fire quickly tore through a Reno home Monday morning, resulting in a complete structural loss of the home.

First responders from the Reno Volunteer Fire Department arrived shortly after 10 a.m. to find a fully involved kitchen fire blazing out of the 1245 Sandhill Road trailer, said Reno Fire Chief Dan Ritchey.

“When I pulled in, I was the first pumper on the scene and the flames were coming out of the kitchen windows and living room windows,” he said.

The home is owned by Ralph McKnight, 74, and wife Lois McKnight, said Lt. Randy Stackpole of the Washington County Sheriff’s Office.

Lois was the only one home when the fire broke out, said Ritchey.

“She was in the back bedroom cleaning,” he said.

She was able to gather up some of her things and quickly escape to a neighbor’s house unharmed, said Capt. Jon Bradford of the Reno Volunteer Fire Department.

The fire appears to have started in a microwave oven and could be electrical in nature, said Bradford.

However, Lois told first responders she had not been using the appliance.

Reno called for mutual aid from the Newport Volunteer Fire Department and the Williamstown Volunteer Fire Department, both of which have tankers that haul large amounts of water.

In addition to Reno’s three pumper trucks and a tanker, the Williamstown Volunteer Fire Department assisted with a tanker and pumper truck and the Newport Volunteer Fire Department responded with a tanker.

Firefighters entered the home through the back and pushed the flames back toward their origin point in the kitchen, said Ritchey.

“We were able to shove it right out the front window,” he said.

It took approximately 5,000 gallons of water to extinguish the blaze, he said.

The fire tore a gaping hole in the kitchen wall through which firefighters could be seen spraying hot spots and fanning out the smoke.

It is uncertain how long the fire had been going before Lois caught the blaze, said Ritchey. Firefighters with Reno were on scene within three minutes of taking the call, he said.

Although the home is a total structural loss, many of the McKnights’ possessions will be salvageable, said Ritchey.

“Other than smoke damage, they’re going to be able to save a lot of their personal things, like photos and such,” he said.

Two adjacent sheds, one only five feet from the kitchen, were not damaged, said Bradford.

The Reno Volunteer Fire Department returned to the scene Monday afternoon when the homeowners called concerned the home was still smoking. However, the continued smoking was normal and the blaze had not reignited, said Ritchey.

No foul play is suspected in the blaze and the state fire marshal will not be called, he said.