By DAKE KANG, Associated Press
AKRON, Ohio (AP) — A couple and their five children died Monday in an early morning house fire.
A relative identified those killed as 35-year-old Dennis Huggins, 38-year-old Angela Boggs, 14-year-old Jered Boggs, 6-year-old Daisia Huggins, 5-year-old Kylle Huggins, 3-year-old Alivia Huggins and 11-month-old Cameron Huggins. The family dog also was killed.
Dennis Huggins 20-year-old son, Tyennys Huggins, said he tried to contact family members to say he would be stopping by Monday and became alarmed when he couldn't reach anyone. He then received a call from a cousin about the fire.
"I just saw my dad last night, and I feel like I'm going to see him tomorrow," he said. "I feel like I'm going to see him later on."
Firefighters found the two-story home in Akron, about 30 miles (48 kilometers) south of Cleveland, engulfed in flames when they arrived shortly before 3 a.m. Monday. The house sat at the top of a winding street in a neighborhood of mostly two-story clapboard houses.
The Akron Fire Department is working with the state fire marshal's office and local police to determine how the fire started, fire Chief Clarence Tucker said. A fire marshal's official said investigators used a dog while collecting evidence but wouldn't say what that evidence was.
The fire occurred a block from a home where a man and a woman died in an April 2016 fire investigated as a potential arson, but there was no indication the fires were related.
Tucker said it couldn't be determined whether the home had working smoke detectors because of the damage Monday. Tyennys Huggins said it did.
He said his father was an electrician and his father's girlfriend was a longtime dialysis technician. The home was titled in both of their names, county records show.
Dennis Huggins' brother, 45-year-old Tony Huggins, stood near the fire-ravaged home Monday evening with his wife, Damonica Huggins, fighting back tears. He said his brother and Angela Boggs loved their children very much, describing her as "very sweet, soft-spoken and gentle."
"It's just a tough loss right now," Tony Huggins said. "That was my baby brother. I practically raised him."
Tyennys Huggins said he stopped by the family's home nearly every day and helped his father renovate it. He described his father as "amazing."
"He's my favorite person on the planet, my best friend," Huggins said. "I'm forever gonna miss him."
Mayor Daniel Horrigan extended his sympathies to victims' families.
AKRON, Ohio -- Five children and two adults were killed Monday in an Akron house fire, police said.
The fire, which equaled the deadliest in the city's history, broke out at a home on Fultz Avenue near East Avenue.
Father Dennis Huggins, 35, and Angela Boggs, 38, were killed along with their children: Cameron Huggins, 1; Alivia Huggins, 3; Kylle Huggins, 5; Daisia Huggins, 6; and Jered Boggs, 14. A family dog also died in the fire.
All were found upstairs and several in a bedroom, according to Akron fire department spokeswoman Lt. Serjie Lash.
Seven people also died in a 1994 fire in Akron, officials said.
The fire broke out about 2:45 a.m. Monday at the home where the family lived.
Akron Fire Chief Clarence Tucker said his investigators, the Ohio Fire Marshal's Office and police are trying to determine the cause.
"A fire that is this severe, you can never rule out the possibility of arson," Tucker said. "But we have investigators here trying to determine the cause."
Ohio Fire Marshal investigator Robert Sharp said he could not elaborate on the evidence his five investigators collected.
He said they will test items from the home to see if they give any clues as to what caused the fire.
Akron Mayor Dan Horrigan called the fire "tragic" and pledged to help the victims' family members as well as the community heal from the deadly fire.
"My family, the Akron Fire Department, and the entire Akron community, are profoundly saddened by this devastating incident and this tragic loss of life," Horrigan said in a statement. "My deepest sympathies and prayers are with the family and loved ones of those who perished, and we pray for strength and healing in the difficult days to come. We will see to it that the victims' families are supported in this time of great sorrow and need."
Two neighbors called 911 to report the fire. One caller said flames were shooting from the home. Another described it as being "almost burnt up" several minutes later.
She said she heard explosion-like sounds.
"It just keeps popping," she told the dispatcher.
The fire ripped through the home and left the interior charred. Parts of the exterior were also severely burned.
The extensive water and fire damage made it initially unsafe for investigators to go into the home. A special response team arrived at the scene about 9:30 a.m. to help make it safe to enter the home and they were able to get inside about two hours later.
Akron Police Chief James Nice and Chief Assistant Summit County Prosecutor Brad Gessner were also at the scene.
Thomas said there is no indication that the fire is connected to an April 2016 fire that killed two people-- Lindell Lewis, 66, and Gloria Hart, 65 -- about two blocks away. That fire was ruled an arson and no arrests have been made in the case.
Lewis' brother, Willie Lewis, drove to the scene on Monday.
"It's heinous," Lewis said. "We're hoping that something may come up. Maybe this fire will bring something up. We're hoping for better results for this fire than ours."