Sunday, January 09, 2000

Three die in Monroe fire


Camera helps firefighters out of danger

BY JANET C. WETZEL
The Cincinnati Enquirer

img
Lindy Avenue home where three people died.
(Glenn Hartong photo)
| ZOOM |
        MONROE — The wail of sirens broke the early-morning calm in a Monroe neighborhood early Saturday, signaling a fire that left two brothers and a family friend dead.

        Two firefighters were treated at area hospitals for injuries.

        Two others narrowly escaped death when a co-worker used the city's new thermal-imaging camera to find them and lead them to safety after one room exploded in flames.

        Dead are Terry Langdon, 52, who owned the home on Lindy Avenue about 24 years; his brother, Matt Langdon, 41, of Briarwood Drive, Hamilton; and June Reck, 43, of Euclid Avenue, Middletown, Matt Langdon's girlfriend.

        The cause of the 5:55 a.m. blaze, which started in the basement of the three-bedroom ranch house, will not likely be known until next week, but it is not suspicious, said Monroe Fire Chief Mark Neu and State Fire Marshal Steve Southard.

        No smoke detectors were found in the home.

        Total damage is estimated at $45,000, Chief Neu said.

        Terry Langdon was found dead in his bedroom at the front of the home, Chief Neu said. Matt Langdon and Ms. Reck were found in the bathtub filled with water.

        “They apparently woke up, became panicked and disoriented from smoke and carbon dioxide and sought safety in the bathroom, looking for someplace cool,” Chief Neu said.

        Butler County Coroner Dr. Richard Burkhardt said the cause of death was undetermined but could have been from flames or carbon monoxide.

        Terry Langdon was chief nuclear medical technician at the Fort Hamilton Hospital,

        Hamilton. Matt Langdon was a manager at Purple Peach Farm, a llama farm in Okeana.

        Ms. Reck worked at Middletown Regional Hospital Credit Union.

        Ms. Reck's daughter, Erin, 15, said she and her mother, who had dated Matt Langdon about three years, have lived with her maternal grandmother, Pat Malloy, about 11 years.

        “I can't believe this,” Ms. Reck said.

        “Everybody loved her. She was a really good person. If you went to like Meijer's or something she'd know three-fourths of the people there.”

        Patty Smith, supervisor of nurses at Middletown Regional Hospital, said Ms. Reck, an employee there for about three years, was well-liked by co-workers.

        Kay Langdon said she and her ex-husband, Terry, remained good friends and saw each other almost daily. She said he cherished their daughter, Katie, 14.

        “Terry and Matt were both so full of life. They loved music a lot, especially rock 'n' roll; they were very family-oriented people,” Ms. Langdon said.

        “This is unbelievable, terrible.”

        The brothers' parents are Miles and Mary Langdon of Hamilton. Other family members include two sisters, Kathy Langdon and Robin Lunsford of Hamilton, Ms. Langdon said.

        Firefighter/paramedics Scott Klasgen and Andrew Turner were in a bedroom when a flashover occurred, Chief Neu said.

        A flashover occurs when an entire room bursts into flames from a buildup of heat.

        Jamie Verden, a firefighter/paramedic who was in another room with the thermal-imaging camera, rushed to their aid, along with other firefighters, and used the camera to lead them out uninjured.

        “We could have had two more bodies,” said Chief Neu said. “I can't tell you how happy I am we had that camera. We have another one on order that we're buying with money given to us by Lemon Township.”

        Firefighter/paramedic John King was released from Mercy Hospital, Hamilton, after being treated for first- and second-degree burns to his face. Capt. David Neu was treated at Middletown Regional Hospital for back strain and released.

        The fatal fire, the first in the city since last fall, was reported by a neighbor. Firefighters arrived four minutes after the call, Chief Neu said.

        Monroe Police Patrolman Tom Cobaugh was the first to arrive but was driven back by smoke and intense heat, Chief Neu said.

        David Helton, who lives down the street from the Langdons, looked stunned and distraught, said, “I was just up there about two weeks ago visiting them.

        “We drank some beer, laughed, watched some basketball, had fun. I just can't believe this happened. I'm sure going to miss them.

        “It's going to kill his parents. They lost their only other son more than 30 years ago in a car accident.”

        Another neighbor, David Gedeon, said he and his wife saw the flames and ran to the house.

        “What a shame ... with a $20 smoke detector everyone could probably have walked away,” he said.

       



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