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KILLBUCK TWP. -- A local woman lost her life Sunday, Feb. 4, when she was unable to escape an early morning fire that consumed her home.
April D. Rogers, 41, of 3181 Township Road 74, Killbuck, was pronounced dead at the scene, according to Chief Deputy Richard Haun of the Holmes County Sheriff's Office.
Firefighters were dispatched to the residence after receiving a 6:15 a.m. call from Rogers, who reported that the home she shared with her husband, Volley Rogers, was on fire, said Haun. He noted that by the time they arrived, it was apparent she did not make it out of the house.
"When they got there, their major focus was on a rescue operation, but they were unable to get to her because of the extent of the fire," said Haun, adding, the approach shifted to one of fighting the fire and the attempt to locate her became a recovery effort. She was dead by the time firefighters were able to reach her.
The preliminary investigation suggests April and Volley Rogers were asleep when the fire started. Volley Rogers told investigators he believed his wife was following him out, but, after he got outside, he realized she was not behind him, said Haun.
Found with one of the family dogs, "the preliminary investigation indicates April Rogers diverted from her escape to attempt to get the animals out of the house, Haun said.
"It's a terrible tragedy that didn't necessarily have to happen, but it did," said Haun, adding he has "the utmost respect" for the loss and pain the family is now going through.
"Obviously our hearts go out to the family and the community in these types of situations," said Haun, who knew April Rogers from school and her employment at Yoder Dental.
"She was always pleasant to be around. She was pleasant in the community and a much-needed member of the community," he said, explaining the loss is great and one that will be felt by many.
Similarly, Killbuck Township Assistant Chief Aaron Chanay, who was first on scene, said he graduated with April Rogers and knew her for many years.
"I just want to send condolences from myself and the department to the family," he said.
Haun and Chanay remind all of the dangers of fire and speed with which it can spread through a structure. In such cases, they said, the primary goal should be personal safety. Residents should not compromise their own safety to save animals or even other people and are encouraged to leave rescue efforts to firefighters who have the training and equipment to best respond safely.
The fire, which was fully involved when firefighters arrived, took several hours to bring under control, said Haun, noting there were no others home at the time of the fire.
The cause and origin of the fire remain under investigation by sheriff's detectives and the state Fire Marshal's Office, according to Haun, adding, "There is nothing initially that leads us to believe it's suspicious."
While it appears April Rogers died from smoke inhalation, the cause of her death also is under investigation by the Sheriff's Office and the Holmes County Coroner's Office, Haun said.
Responding to the fire were members of the Killbuck Township Volunteer Fire Department, Richland Township Volunteer Fire Department, Western Holmes Fire District, Holmes Fire District No. 1, East Holmes Fire & EMS Co. and Prairie Township Fire Department.
The Lake Erie/Heartland Chapter of the American Red Cross also was contacted, according to Executive Director Lara Kiefer, who said early Sunday afternoon, "Our disaster team members are on their way and are prepared to provide mental health services to family and friends."
Just the week before the fire, the chapter trained a Holmes County resident to be its home fire campaign coordinator for that county, Kiefer said. David Crilow, who is volunteering his time to the Red Cross, is a retired firefighter, working at Lynn Hope Industries.
He will be working with all fire departments in Holmes County to see if they can assist in distributing and installing smoke alarms in any homes in need.
"The Red Cross has this initiative throughout the country in the hopes that we can reduce home fatalities and injuries by 25 percent," said Kiefer, who added that anyone interested in volunteering their time to help in a similar or another capacity should call her at 330-264-9383.
Reporter Christine Pratt can be reached at 330-674-5676 or firstname.lastname@example.org.