A firefighter stands before a trailer engulfed in flames Monday morning in West Leipsic - Putnam Sentinel
A firefighter stands before a trailer engulfed in flames Monday morning in West Leipsic. (Putnam Sentinel/Martin Verni)

WEST LEIPSIC — Two bodies were discovered in the burnt-out shell of a West Leipsic trailer home following a fire there early Monday morning.

At 8:13 a.m., Monday, Jan. 28, Putnam County 9-1-1 received a call reporting a house trailer on fire at 51 South Third Street Lot 3, West Leipsic. Leipsic Chief of Police Dennis Cupp, a former investigator with the Ohio State Fire Marshall’s Office and a volunteer fireman, was first on the scene.

“This trailer was doing everything but breathing on its own, puffing and puffing and puffing,” Cupp said.

“I was running around banging on the walls to see if I could hear anybody to the backside where I figured bedrooms were,” Cupp added. “Shortly after that, the windows blew out of the front. Flames were just shooting out of it.”

On arrival, members of the Leipsic Fire Department initiated an aggressive interior search to determine if the home was occupied. One team attempted to enter through the home’s front door, but the floor immediately gave way beneath them. A second team gained entery through what was likely a bedroom window, but were forced to give ground when the structure began to collapse around them, at which time firefighting switched to a defensive fire attack.

“The fire conditions pushed them back out to where they had to make an attack on the fire before they could do any more searching because there was so much heat on the guys,” Leipsic Fire Chief Neil Goodwin said.

After the fire was out and crews were able to search the structure more thoroughly, the bodies of the two individuals were discovered. Although final verification of their identities depends on the results of autopsies performed at the Lucas County Coroner’s office, Cupp stated the two are likely David Lee “Butch” Chamberlain, Sr., and his wife, Marla D. Chamberlain, the known occupants of the home.

The cause of the fire remains under investigation by the Ohio State Fire Marshall’s Office, but does not appear to be suspicious in nature. However, Leipsic Fire Chief Neil Goodwin remarked the home appeared to be missing an important safeguard, one that could have played a role on the deaths.

“We did not find any evidence of working smoke detectors at all,” Goodwin said.

The home was extinguished with assistance from Miller City and Ottawa Fire Departments. Also assisting at the scene were the Leipsic Police Department, Putnam County Sheriffs Office, Leipsic EMS, Putnam County EMS, and American Electric Power.