Flames shot from the roof of the residence in the 1200 block of Woodland Avenue NW.

The fireplace had been running all night, but when Jerry Fair saw smoke coming from the walls Tuesday afternoon he knew something was wrong.

The family of seven called 911 and Fair raced to dump buckets of water on the growing blaze.

"It was just too much to put out," said Fair, huddled with some of his family inside a running car as firefighters doused the two-story home at 1252 Woodland Ave. NW, two blocks east of the Cleveland Avenue and 12th Street NW intersection.

The family scurried to get out as the fire spread. Fair's wife and sons grabbed their four dogs and headed into the frigid afternoon air, the coldest day in decades. One bare-footed son fled the home in shorts and a T-shirt. The Red Cross was looking for temporary shelter for the family.

Fair said he was devastated but happy his wife and five kids, ages 11, 13, 15, 17 and 19, made it out safely. A neighbor passed blankets to the family through their car window so they could stay warm.

The frigid temperatures wreaked havoc for firefighters.

Division Chief John Whitlatch said the first fire hydrant firefighters tried was frozen, forcing them to draw water from their trucks until they could find another hydrant down the street. Firefighters also had to swap out a frozen nozzle.

"This type of weather condition is just brutal to operate in outside," said Whitlatch.

The fire was in the walls by the time firefighters arrived on scene. It spread to both the attic and the basement.

Whitlatch said reminded homeowners to keep their fireplaces clean and to check them regularly.

"We've got this extremely cold weather and people are keeping their fireplaces burning 24/7 and (the home can catch fire) if they haven't been cleaned or they are trying to get too much wood in there. It's hard to tell what happened with this at this point.

"We put out all the warnings we can," he added. "For the most part people are careful, but there's always going to be a small percentage that have this accident."

Reach Matthew at 330-580-8527 or On Twitter: @mrinkREP

A fund has been created at Huntington Bank for anyone wishing to donate to the family, according to a news release from the Canton City School District, where the children attend school.
Donations can be made to the fund, listed under the name of Kimberly R. Fair, at any branch. The family also is in need also of clothing. Sizes will be posted on the district's Facebook page when they are available.