SPRINGFIELD TWP. — A 93-year-old woman was killed Tuesday morning in a house fire, despite what firefighters and the family say was a heroic effort by the victim's 13-year-old great-grandson to save her.
The victim, who was identified as Catherine Casto by the Summit County Medical Examiner's Office, was trapped in the Mayfair Road home and had burns over 80 percent of her body. She was taken to Summa Akron City Hospital, where she was pronounced dead.
There were five people home at the time of the fire, which broke out before 7:30 a.m. in the kitchen area of the home in the 2700 block of Mayfair along the township line with Green.
Fire Capt. Stephen Simich and the family said 13-year-old Lucas Casto, who lived at the home, smelled smoke and alerted his family to get out of the house. He also ran and got a fire extinguisher to try to put out the fire and tried to break out windows to try to get other family members up and out of the home.
"He's certainly, in our eyes, to be commended for his attempt," Simich said. "I'm impressed with what he tried to do."
Tim Swaney, whose mother and grandmother lived at the home and is Lucas' cousin, called him a hero. He came to the scene after the fire.
"Lucas was doing the best he could to try to save everybody. I think he was extremely brave in the face of danger. He acted without … you know," he said, pausing. "He acted to save everybody else and and put his safety in jeopardy to do so."
He said the family is "doing the best as they can."
When asked Tuesday afternoon how Lucas was doing, Swaney said: "He’s fairly quiet right now. … He's not saying a lot." He said the family plans to have him talk with a professional about the experience.
Fire officials are investigating the cause of the blaze. The American Red Cross is helping the family.
Simich said there were two smoke detectors in the house, but neither was operating. One wasn't working, and the other had been taken down so a battery could be replaced.
Simich said fire officials always encourage people to have working smoke detectors.
"It could have made a difference," he said. "You don't know."
Firefighters from Green, Coventry and Lakemore also responded to the scene. The fire was extinguished quickly and was limited to the kitchen area in the back of the home, which sits behind a row of bushes that hide the house from Mayfair.
The road was closed for several hours.
Simich, who has worked for the Springfield department since 1996, said he couldn't remember the last time there was a fatal fire in the township.
Rick Armon can be reached at 330-996-3569 or email@example.com. Follow him on Twitter at @armonrickABJ.