Jeromesville community comforts survivors, following house fire

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“Tragedy is a tool for the living to gain wisdom, not a guide by which to live.”

— Robert F. Kennedy

A week ago today, our neighbors, just a mile across the farm fields, were busy enjoying summer. By midnight, fire would ravage their home and take half of their family.

Two little ones, Delaney and JJ, ages 4 and almost 2, had a playhouse on the lawn, and their 12-year-old big sister Faithlyn was happily preparing to show cattle at the Wayne County Fair. An incubator on the porch was set up for chicks, another fair project. Soon to turn 14, Faith’s brother Brayden rounded out the blended family.

The fire

It was right around midnight when the parents, asleep on the second floor of the century-old farmhouse, were awakened to fire. It is unimaginable, the horror that follows.

Brayden, the only one sleeping on the main floor, was awakened by screams and escaped unharmed. The parents, who had tried desperately to get to their children, found themselves with a growing fire and no phone to call for help.

They were forced to run through cornfields to a neighbor’s home in the middle of the dark night, frantically waking them, begging they call for help in a hurry.

The 911 call came at 12:46 a.m. By the time the Jeromesville Fire Department arrived to the property which is situated about 1,000 feet off a country road, the house was fully engulfed in flames.

A tragedy

While three survivors were taken to the hospital, the coroner arrived at the scene. In time, the bodies were located, and it was determined the three youngest children in the home had died of smoke inhalation. The announcement came the next day that the incubator had caused the blaze.

The house burned to the ground, despite six tankers from surrounding volunteer fire departments having responded to the scene. My small community has known much sorrow, enduring disaster and tragedy, and once again, we rise with a strength that cannot be denied.

Community support

The fire chaplain lead a vigil for the family, with the community turning out to grieve and console one another. People are donating with generous hearts, offering help in any way it is needed. We rise when loss levels those around us.

“Our community comes together like no other in times of crisis,” said middle school principal Tim Keib.

Rex Pinegar once said “There is terrible suffering in our world today. Tragic things happen to good people. God does not cause them, nor does he always prevent them. He does, however, strengthen us and bless us with His peace, through earnest prayer.”

Anyone wishing to donate to this family suffering unimaginable loss may do so through Huntington Bank branches, to benefit the John Bogavich family, 234 Township Road 1550, Jeromesville, Ohio.

Words fall so short in the face of unimaginable tragedy. This family is in need of prayer and comfort. Prayer, too, is appreciated for our volunteer firefighters.

Living with loss

None of us have the power to turn back time, so we must find the power to live with the heartbreak life can bring. My country neighborhood is hurting, and the pain and loss will be felt for a very long time.

Life unfolds in ways we can never fully anticipate. Hold your loved ones just a little bit longer, while counting every blessing.

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Judith Sutherland, born and raised on an Ohio family dairy farm, now lives on a 70-acre farm not far from the area where her father’s family settled in the 1850s. Appreciating the tranquility of rural life, Sutherland enjoys sharing a view of her world through writing. Other interests include teaching, reading, training dogs and raising puppies. She and her husband have two children, a son and a daughter, in college.

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