Fatal fire suspected of starting in basement

STEUBENVILLE – The City Fire Department believes a fire Saturday morning that claimed the lives of Marian Neeper, 70, and Geary Clutter, 63, started in the basement of the home at 301 Braybarton Blvd.

Fire Chief Carlo Capaldi said the fire department will never be 100 percent sure as to the cause of the fire because of the extent of the damage. He said an investigation showed the fire was probably burning for some time in the basement. He said the first firefighters into the house quickly backed out because the first floor was in jeopardy of collapsing.

Capaldi said the roof and the first floor did fall into the basement.

A City Police officer on patrol saw the fire around 5:05 a.m. Saturday and notified the fire department.

The fire department reported every room in the house was on fire at some point. Capaldi said a wall of the home collapsed after the blaze was extinguished.

The state fire marshal’s office has been called in to investigate the fire. A spokesperson for the fire marshal’s office could not be reached for comment.