During the last week of January of 2019, the city of New Lexington faced two mobile home fires. Just after midnight on Monday January 28, the fire department visited a mobile home engulfed in flames at the 300 block on North State Street.
It is factual that the fire started in the kitchen next to 2 portable space heaters. The space heaters were believed to be the cause of the fire, but not yet confirmed. The flames claimed the lives of a 7 year old girl, Monica and also her little brother, Shayde that was 3 years of age. Donations for the children are being accepted at the Roberts Funeral Home located in New Lexington and at East End Tattoos and Piercings in Zanesville. Living in the home were two adults, Michael and Debbie Thompson and five children ranging in age from 6 months to 17 years. The oldest son woke up as soon as the fire began, he immediately woke up their father, Michael Thompson and they rushed to get everyone to safety. He was not able to save his two youngest children stating “I was so close, I was so close and I couldn’t save my babies. The roof came down one me and hit me. I don’t remember much after that.” He also says his 13 year old daughter pulled him from the fire saving his life after that. Thompson is mourning over his little children while sitting bedside of his other two children that are still being hospitalized at the Nationwide Children’s Hospital. The family’s dog was also rescued from the fire. As of Friday, he is being treated at the Masterson Veterinary Clinic in Somerset.
On January 30th at 2:30 in the morning, the New Lexington Assistant Fire Chief Chris Spencer was called to the residence on the 100 Block of East Broadway Street in New Lex. Two adults were pulled from the fire by a third party, but when they arrived the house was already 75% engulfed in flames. A nearby neighbor stated that the fire was in progress 20 minutes before the fire department arrived. There were several first responders at the scene, including Crooksville, Roseville, Junction City, Somerset, Shawnee Fire and EMS. Along with the New Lex Police Department, Perry County Sheriff’s Office, and the New Lex Street Department. The Bell Store located on Broadway Street gave the 30-35 firefighters and EMS hot drinks while dealing with the fire. The weather was too bad for air-lift transportation, so both adults were taken to the Genesis Medical Center in Somerset.
Shortly after they arrived there, they were transported to Ohio State’s Wexner Medical and Burn Center. They are both still in critical condition. Both of the fires are still under investigation, but it is questioned if space heaters caused the fires. Both fires started next to space heaters, many of the officers said it would not be a surprise just because of the time of the year. New Lexington Fire Chief, Jim Fain stated “Space heaters are great, they are small and put out a lot of heat but if not properly used the damage they can cause is astronomical. If you are going to use a space heater, make sure they are plugged directly into the outlet. Do not use extension cords or power strips, they can’t handle the electric load of a space heater.”
Officials say that both homes were suspicious of not having smoke detectors, so Fain stated, “Also, have an escape plan. This is so important, especially if there are children in the home.” Resources are being used from the New Lexington Police Department, Perry County Sheriff’s Office, and the New Lexington street department to investigate both fires.