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Workers clear scene of deadly blaze

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On Saturday, crews started tearing down the charred remains of a Nineveh house where a fire killed two young children and their mother.

By the end of this week, even the mound of rubble left behind should be gone, according to Christopher Abbott, the husband and father. Workers told him they were hauling off the boards and other trash to burn, he said.

Abbott was at work Nov. 22 when the duplex caught fire, killing two of his children, 5-month-old John Ryan Slusher-Abbott and 22-month-old Hailey Slusher-Abbott. His wife, Sirena Slusher-Abbott, 27, died days later from burns and smoke inhalation after trying repeatedly to get her babies out of the upstairs apartment where they lived.

The workers have given him items they’ve dug up from the rubble — so far, some photos of his family of five and his house keys.

He’s glad to see the house go, he said.

He drives by the house on his way to and from work every day and noticed Saturday on his drive home that the house was coming down.

“I feel good about it. I’m at peace with what happened. Like I tell everybody, I gave my life to Jesus Christ,” Abbott said.

Tearing down the house will be a relief to Nineveh residents, who had to see the charred duplex more often than he did, he said. For example, the owner of Head to Toe Salon & Spa across the street was eager to have the house torn down.

Abbott and his daughter, Aley, 6, are the only survivors of the fire, which investigators say was started by a candle that was burning near where Hailey was playing in the living room. Aley escaped because Sirena Slusher-Abbott sent her to a neighbor’s house to get help.

The house couldn’t be torn down sooner because of an investigation that didn’t conclude until earlier this month, owner Ken McKee has said. The State Fire Marshal’s office and insurance companies conducted separate investigations.

McKee said he does not plan to build on the property and will sell it if he can find a buyer.

Township Trustee Janet Renner said the demolition will remove a painful reminder to the community of the fatal fire.

“They just don’t want to relive it every day. It was hard for them. They came out to try and see what they could do,” Renner said. “So it’s reliving it every day. That’s just really hard on them.”

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