BELMONT – Two people died in a “mistrustful” incident which included a fire Tuesday morning, and Belmont County Sheriff David Lucas said investigators were seeking help from the public in the surrounding area.
After declining to provide many details earlier today, shortly after 4 p.m. Tuesday, Lucas confirmed the blaze had been brought under control. “mistrustful.” He also said investigators are asking any residents or businesses with cameras along US 40 east and west of Trails End Drive to call the sheriff’s office at 740-695-7933. . He said front desk staff would direct calls appropriately.
According to Lucas, the incident was originally reported around 7 a.m. Tuesday as a structural fire at a house on Trails End Drive, located between Morristown and East Richland off National Road. The Belmont Volunteer Fire Department responded, a service member said, but Belmont County Central Dispatch declined to provide information on the call for help, including services that were sent for fight the reported fire.
Lucas said when deputies arrived, firefighters and a witness informed them that there were two people inside the house who had died.
At around 10 a.m. on Tuesday, an emergency crew from the Barnesville Fire Department remained at the scene, along with eight police cars from the Sheriff’s Department, including a vehicle from the K-9 unit, a truck from the County Emergency Management Agency, two County Coroner’s trucks, one Ohio Department of Transportation truck, and one Ohio Bureau of Criminal Investigations crime scene unit. Lucas said the Ohio State Fire Marshal’s office also had representatives on site. The property was surrounded by police gangs.
“It is a very tragic morning when we are losing lives”, Lucas told his office early Tuesday afternoon. “This is why we are all working together to try to determine exactly what happened.”
Lucas declined to release the names of the victims, saying family members should always be notified. It would not provide the gender of the victims or the details of any relationship between them, calling them only “two individuals”.
As officers worked inside the house, an investigator drove a dog around the area, apparently looking for evidence.
County Coroner Dr Amanda Fisher was inside the house where the fire occurred and also spoke with a neighbor in his driveway and entered his house. On leaving this house, she confirmed to The Times Leader that there had been a “fatal double” in the house which had been set on fire. She refused to say anything more.
While he did not say whether the fire appeared to be the cause of either victim’s death, Lucas said state agencies have been called to “Make sure we’re doing everything right from the start. “ He said these state agencies exist to provide assistance to local authorities “in matters like this.”
Shortly after noon, the Barnesville team was moved to the rear of the property. A deputy said the bodies were being removed at the time. Lucas said they would be taken to a facility where autopsies would be performed to determine the exact cause of death.
Ryan Allar, chief investigator for the sheriff’s office, was at the scene shortly after noon. Lucas said Allar will lead the investigation and notify the sheriff when more information should be released.
As to whether there is cause for concern in the community, Lucas said his department is “Work to get answers”. He warned that “Social media will be unleashed” with speculation over the deaths and that residents of the area should wait for the official word of investigators before drawing any conclusions. He said investigators had “nothing concrete” to indicate that people in the vicinity should be alarmed.
“We are only at six o’clock”, Lucas said of the investigation. “We have to take our time. “