Two elderly sisters, both foster parents, killed in east side house fire

Two elderly sisters, both foster parents, killed in east side house fire
Two women killed in east side fire. (Source: WOIO)
Cleveland fire claims two lives. (Source: WOIO)
Cleveland fire claims two lives. (Source: WOIO)
Deadly fire on Cleveland's east side. (Source: WOIO)
Deadly fire on Cleveland's east side. (Source: WOIO)

CLEVELAND, OH (WOIO) - Family members and neighbors are stunned by the news that two sisters, ages 85 and 90, died in an early morning house fire on Cleveland's east side. 

The foster children of one of the women identified them to Cleveland 19, but authorities haven't yet released their identities. 

Theresa Taylor and Antonette Smith were both foster children who grew up in the home destroyed by the fire Wednesday morning. 

"We all lived here together as kids we all grew up in this house," said Smith. "Yes we did, in that house - that house has been there a long long time," said Taylor.  

They both smiled as they spoke about the women who lived in the home, and hugged each other as they spoke about the tragedy. 

"To be absent from the body is to be present with the Lord, and we have to look at it like that. It's such a tragedy, such a tragedy but God knows best. God knows best," said Taylor.

The investigation into what exactly caused the fire is still ongoing, and the State Fire Marshal's office is involved in the investigation. 

Larry Gray, the spokesperson for the Cleveland Fire Department, said the department got the call at about 2:20 am. 

He said that firefighters knew that there were people inside, they could see fire on both floors and they had two eye witnesses. He said there was an 85-year-old man who had been staying on the second floor, who "appeared semi-dazed."

The 45-year-old grandson of one of the victims and nephew of the other had also been inside when the fire started.

"He had awoken to his aunt, who lived on the second floor, screaming and he initially jumped up out of bed tried to go make an attempt to rescue his grandmother," said Gray. 

Gray said there was an explosion, and fire fighters and the grandson had to leave the home. The grandson was injured and taken to MetroHealth Hospital. 

"I just seen like fire everywhere and I'm just seeing smoke, just going, going and the house it was just burning," said witness Marquise Jackson. "That was sad to hear because that could have been my grandmother."

The investigation as to what exactly caused the fire is ongoing with investigators on scene a full 12 hours after the initial call...and we do know the state fire marshals office is part of the investigation.  

Gray said, although they don't yet know the cause of this fire it's a good reminder to take precautions to stay safe. 

"At this time of year, every year in the winter months, as the inclement weather comes upon us we want to impose upon residents to make sure they buyout time to make sure their batteries are functioning properly," said Gray. "The best thing you can do is have the first line of defense which is a smoke alarm which is the cheapest, most convenient way to make sure if something is to occur you'll be alerted." 

Gray said it's also good to keep elderly neighbors in mind.  

"We ask that people check on seniors. If you know someone in your neighborhood in your community that is a senior, that might have some type of disability, please stop in and check on them and try to assist them," said Gray.

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