Fire claims life of Ripley man
RIPLEY-A Ripley man lost his life Tuesday after an electronic device in his home reportedly caught on fire.
Kevin L. Lantz, 61, was found motionless inside his 108 W. Main St. home after fire crews from the Ripley, Sherman and Westfield fire departments staved off a blaze coming from his back porch shortly after 4 p.m.
Lantz was transported to Westfield Memorial Hospital, where he died a short time later due to smoke inhalation.
Investigation revealed that an electronic device inside the home accidentally caught on fire, and that Lantz had presumably moved it to the back porch.
Unable to exit the home in time, Lantz was found lying unresponsive in the bathroom, fire officials said.
According to James Spacht, third assistant chief of the Ripley Fire Department, there was some initial confusion as to whether the house was occupied or not.
“When we originally got the call, (dispatch) said there was a car in the driveway, and it was unknown if there was anybody in the house,” Spacht said. “A neighbor was putting water on the fire with a hose before we even got there … and he was also unsure if anybody was inside.”
Spacht said that Lantz was likely unresponsive before any fire crews arrived because the fire was still burning heavily when crews first approached the scene.
Damage to the house was mostly confined to the back porch area, according to Spacht. There was minimal damage to the roof and some walls.
Although the fire appears accidental in nature, an investigation is continuing to determine how and what electronic device caught on fire.