WILLOUGHBY, Ohio - Just before dawn Friday, an occupant in the 37000 block of Code Avenue awoke to smoke filling his rental home. Responding to his 911 call, Willoughby Fire Department Lieutenant Mark Leisure said his crews were on the scene within five minutes to find the one-story home fully involved in flames.
"There was heavy fire coming out of what would be the east side wall of the structure. The fire appeared to have originated from the basement," said Leisure. "It appears to be accidental in nature. The occupant is uninsured, he's a renter, and the house is a complete loss."
Leisure said that the two male occupants were related. The uncle was the only occupant in the house at the time the fire broke out. His nephew was reported to be at work when the call came in at 6:56 a.m. Friday.
Leisure said the the uncle was a gun collector and rare knife collector. Some of his weapons were carried out to the victim's pickup truck. Little else looked salvageable from the scorched hole in the side of the home facing Ben Hur Avenue. The weapons were said to not be of any danger to firefighters during the fire fight.
"There was absolutely nothing in the house of any significance as far as ignition sources or danger. No illegal activities going on. The owner [renter] is a gun collector, had a knife collection inside there. He's got a lot of valuables with some racing car parts and some racing models. He's going to try to salvage as much as he can," said Leisure.
The property owner was at the scene just before noon assessing the damage with the Willoughby Fire Marshal. He did want to comment on camera, but did say the renters were good tenants and had been renting the home for about 15 years.
Lt. Leisure said the home is still under investigation.