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'It looked like a bonfire': Three dead after West Chester fire

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Posted at 5:02 AM, Jul 13, 2021
and last updated 2021-07-14 13:18:53-04

WEST CHESTER TOWNSHIP, Ohio — WEST CHESTER TOWNSHIP, Ohio — The Butler County coroner Wednesday afternoon identified the three people killed in a mobile home fire early Tuesday morning.

The coroner's office said Thomas Kozee Sr., 80; Carole Kozee, 77; and Jennipher Kozee, 56, died at area hospitals following the fire at Princeton Crossing Mobile Home Park after firefighters found them unconscious inside.

A crowd had gathered outside the burning home by the time firefighters arrived at the scene Tuesday. Six people lived there, neighbors told them. At least some were still inside.

“It looked like a bonfire,” said Jennifer Carangi, a neighbor who called 911 before sprinting to the scene.

A police officer who had noticed the smoke met Carangi outside the home at the end of her sprint, she said. He was knocking on windows of the mobile home with his flashlight and shouting to get the occupants’ attention.

“I had a bad feeling because he was banging on all the windows and no one was coming out,” Carangi said.

One firefighter who participated in the rescue was taken to the hospital for heat exhaustion, fire officials said. They expected him to be able to return home by Wednesday night.

“We do expect him to completely recover,” West Chester fire Chief Rick Prinz told the Journal-News. “It’s just so humid and with the amount of personal protective equipment that we wear, and the strenuous work that needs to be done, it just adds up. You don’t necessarily need to be next to the fire to be dehydrated. It’s throwing the ladders and pulling the hose and performing CPR and pulling victims, all those things it just takes a toll.”

State fire marshals are helping West Chester fire investigators determine the cause of the fire, which began in a back bedroom and collapsed parts of the structure.

WCPO 9 News partner, the Journal-News' Denise G. Callahan contributed to this report.