FINDLAY -- Investigators believe two people died from smoke inhalation while sleeping early Sunday morning in their downtown Findlay apartment. 76-year-old William Wagner and 46-year-old Chris Kohli were upstairs above a brokerage office when the flames broke out. Both were taken to Blanchard Valley Regional Health Center, where they were pronounced dead.
A third person was taken to The Toledo Hospital with smoke inhalation. That person is still being treated.
The fire started just before 5:00 a.m. on Sunday when a cleaning crew at a nearby office building saw the fire and called 911. Fire investigators believe the fire started in an attic above the apartments. "It's a sad day," said neighbor Jesus Vela. The roof collapsed about an hour into the fire, and firefighters had to use aerial ladders to pour water on the flames.
Vela and 13 other people live in a building next to the one that caught fire. The American Red Cross put them up in a hotel because the utilities in their building were turned off. The first floor of the building was occupied by A.G. Edwards and Sons. A bridal shop next door also sustained smoke damage.
Fire victim Chris Kohli was rememebered as a talented local artist. "He was adorable. He was a painter. He was so talented," said Denise Kasubinski, who worked with Chris at the Bistro on the Main restaurant in downtown Findlay. "We were family. Everybody at the Bistro is like family," said Denise.
Chris Kohli's family allowed News 11 access to a relative's home filled with the life-like images he put to canvas. Relatives say those portraits and scenes hung in galleries and shows around the region. Family members think Chris probably could have lived off his work, but chose to work a second job as well.
Kohli graduated from Pandora Gilboa High School and had art apprenticeships in Minnesota and Texas. He returned to Findlay to pursue his artwork and also studied music and played the piano. Denise added that "we love him and we will miss him."
Investigators will comb through the wreckage on Monday to determine the cause of the fire. Count on News 11 to follow this story as it develops.
Posted by AEB
730 North Summit Street