Update: Officials say candle started Sea Air fire that injured two

June 5, 2019

Officials say a candle started a fire June 4 in the Sea Air Village that caused $50,000 in damage and sent two people to the hospital. The cause of the fire has been ruled accidental, said Michael Chionchio, assistant state fire marshal.

The fire started about noon when a lit candle in the living room of a Sea Air Avenue home ignited nearby combustibles, Chionchio said. The fire damaged the home and two others in the 19000 block, totaling $50,000 in damage, he said. Firefighters from Rehoboth Beach responded and were assisted by Indian River and Lewes fire companies.

Sea Air resident Thomas Davis said he looked out his front door and saw flames in the neighbor’s small window that faces his home. He said he called 911 while getting his daughter out the back door. His trash cans and some siding melted.

Siding on neighbor Tammy La Duca’s home also melted from the fire, but there was no other damage. La Duca said she was in the shower when she heard screaming, and she grabbed her bird and evacuated her home. 

Davis said the Rehoboth Beach Volunteer Fire Company response time was amazing. “By the time I got over there, everyone was out. I’m grateful that the little boy who lives there was not home today,” Davis said. 

Chionchio said a 30-year-old man was admitted to Crozer Medical Center for smoke inhalation, and he is in stable condition. A woman was taken to Beebe Healthcare for evaluation, he said. 

Sea Air neighbor Gina Sautter said she doesn’t remember getting out of her chair, but she heard her neighbor, Noemi Marrero, screaming fire, and Sautter ran to the back door of the burning mobile home and attempted to open it. She burned her hand on the knob. “I kept screaming ‘Where is the little boy?’ and finally they said he wasn’t home today. But I was running on pure adrenaline,” Sautter said. 

Marrero said she saw red flames in the windows. She and her husband Jose were worried about propane tanks and alerted all the neighbors. Luckily for the occupants of the burning home, Sautter said, landscapers who were cutting grass jumped in and made sure everyone was out of the house. 

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