Lorain Man dies trying to put out apartment fire

Lorain Man dies trying to put out apartment fire

LORAIN, OH (WOIO) - Investigators have identified the victim of a fatal fire in Lorain, and it appears the man made one mistake that cost him his life.

Lorain Fire officials say that 61-year-old Jeffery Vanalman made it out of his burning apartment safely, but then went back in with a fire extinguisher and never made it out alive.

Black soot stains the brick above the window where Vanalman lived. Neighbors say Vanalman lost his life, along with his dog and cat, when flames engulfed his apartment at Lakeshore Colonial Apartments.

"It's just kinda sad. I just wish he could have gotten out, wish he could have gotten out," said Craig Jackson, who lived in the same building.

"I looked out and just seen flames shooting up way high across the windows from across the way," said Brian Gast. 

Gast did what he could to try to put the fire out. 

"Punched out the glass on the fire extinguisher case, took it outside, started spraying. I didn't know there was someone in there at the time. The window already melted and I was just spraying right on top. I guess he was in the living room. I'm not sure," said Gast.

But the fire was too intense to put out in time to save Vanalman.

"I felt upset when I found out there was actually someone in there because I did try to do what I could, but it was too hot. I couldn't get any closer than ten feet," added Gast.

Investigators say what happened was accidental. Gast is now being called a hero by his neighbors for alerting them to the fire and risking his own life to try and put out the flames.

"I just did what any normal person should do when the see a fire. Grab something and put it out," said Gast. 

Investigators are still looking into what caused the fire.

This is the second blaze in the last two weeks where a man has died after going back into his home to try and put out the flames. Fire officials say the last incident happened on East 30th Street where an elderly man died after going back inside his home.

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