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Candle blamed in critical injury fire

A 91-year-old woman badly injured in a weekend house fire near Cromwell was in critical condition Monday, authorities said.

Shortly after 5 p.m. Saturday, firefighters were dispatched to 10510 Noble County Road W. 200 S., about 5 miles south of Cromwell, said firefighter Jason Stump, a spokesman for the Sparta Township Fire Department.

Stump said his chief got there first and medics arrived soon afterward to help the woman who had already escaped her home, which was engulfed in flames.

The woman, identified as Eleanor Steller, suffered smoke inhalation and burns on her face and arms, Stump said. She was flown by helicopter to St. Joseph Hospital’s burn unit in Fort Wayne, he said. She was in critical condition Monday evening, according to hospital staff.

Stump said the fire destroyed the two-story farmhouse where Steller lived alone. Firefighters brought the blaze under control about 9:30 p.m., he said.

Investigators determined that a candle ignited the fire, Stump said.

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