"No Criminal Activity" In Fire, And Grief Intervention Offered - WTRF 7 News Sports Weather - Wheeling Steubenville

"No Criminal Activity" In Fire, And Grief Intervention Offered For 1st Responders

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The Ohio State Fire Marshal's Office has ruled that the Bridgeport fire that killed three small children was not caused by any criminal activity.

They say it may have been electrical, but the cause is officially undetermined at this point.

As that fire was under way on Sunday, there were people on the scene to help.

The kind of help they give is spiritual and emotional, and they do their work quietly and out of the spotlight.

They are the Chaplain Corps and also the Critical Incident Stress Management team.

In Bridgeport as three small children died, clergy had rushed to the scene, and they did a difficult and meaningful job.

"One of our chaplains did perform last rites," said Kurt Turner, coordinator of both programs. "And of course there was no family there other than, I think, one of them was able to deal with the grandparents for a short time."

But there was another need at that scene--to help first responders process the horrific things they experienced.

"The death of a child is the very worst, and I have never ever seen anything like this since the Shadyside flood," said Turner.

He says the long faces of the first responders told the story.

So the Critical Incident Stress Management team held de-briefings.

First responders were warned to expect signs of trauma like flashbacks, nightmares and night sweats, not necessarily immediately, but as time goes on.

"It doesn't end when you take your fire suit off or you park the squad car and actually most of the time, that's the real beginning," said Turner.

Coordinator Kurt Turner says one common thing is recurring thoughts of the event.

"I call it the old VCR syndrome," Turner explains. "You can't shut it off. It keeps coming back, over and over. And we try to give them some coping mechanisms."

Coping is the operative word.

He says you can ease it and deal with it, but it never goes away.

"It's something they'll carry with them the rest of their lives," Turner notes. "There's nobody from CISM, there's no counselor, there's nobody out there who can wipe this out from their memory."

He says they not only warn the first responders what to expect, but they like to warn their spouses too.