Friday, May 30, 2003

Apartment fire kills man

HOME worker spent night in closet with incense, girlfriend says

By Jane Prendergast
The Cincinnati Enquirer

Eric Meyer died where he sought solace.The 25-year-old was a spiritual man who often crawled into the back of the closet in the apartment he shared with his girlfriend in a house in Clifton's Gaslight District. He lit candles there, fire investigators said, and meditated.

Meyer, who worked at Cincinnati's Housing Opportunities Made Equal, burned incense in the spot Wednesday night, his girlfriend, Elea Mihou, told investigators. When she awoke Thursday morning to beeping smoke detectors, she found him still there.

"She went in there and tried to get him out," said fire Lt. Dan Wolf. "But she just kept getting overcome by the smoke.''

Meyer was the second person to die in a fire in Cincinnati this year.

Wolf said Thursday's fire was not related to a spate last month of suspected arson fires in the Clifton area - including one in an apartment building across from the site of the fatal blaze at Shiloh and Telford streets.

Another resident, Scott Corvine, said he ran to the Ludlow Avenue firehouse, about two blocks away, to alert firefighters.

Mihou called 911 at 5:43 a.m., saying the apartment was filled with smoke and her boyfriend was unconscious. Firefighters from Ladder 20 in Northside rescued her from the balcony.

Wrapped in a blanket, she sat in the back seat of a car while firefighters put out the flames that broke through the roof.

She was in good condition Thursday at University Hospital. Wolf said she also works at HOME, an agency that fights discrimination in housing. A woman answering the phone at the agency Thursday afternoon said no one was available to talk about Meyer.

Robert L. Hill Jr. of Springfield Township owns the 79-year-old, 18-room brick and stucco house. Investigators had not estimated damage.

The Clifton arson fires - there were six in a period of about 10 days last month - have stopped, Wolf said. And they were very different from this fire, all set in common areas in unlocked buildings.


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