LAWRENCE TWP. Fire that displaced a family of four a week before Christmas has been ruled as accidental.
The fire is believed to have begun in an area of a lit candle upstairs, according to North Lawrence Volunteer Fire Department public information officer Brandon Johnston.
Firefighters responded at about 5:30 a.m. Wednesday to the residence in the 5000 block of Manchester Ave. NW in Lawrence Township.
Seven departments from two counties were called and Lawrence Township Police Officer Maddi Klemp assisted in helping safely out of the house the mom and two young children who were home at the time. No injuries were reported.
The first engine found heavy fire on the second floor and crews attempted to make an interior attack to try to extinguish the fire. Firefighters faced numerous challenges including the type of construction of the house, the long driveway and tankers had to be called because it was a non hydrant area. Canal Fulton/Lawrence Township, Massillon, Orrville, Brewster, Erie Valley, East Wayne Fire District and Kidron Fire were among departments that responded.
The American Red Cross is setting up the family in a hotel for a couple of days. Hatfield Realty in Canal Fulton is offering an apartment for three months rent-free.
A donation campaign was set up while firefighters were still on scene and items already were arriving at the North Lawrence fire station before crews returned. NLVFD put out a callout on their Facebook page for donations and GoFundMe pages have been set up.
“In my eight years here I have never seen this much support,” Johnston said. “It’s almost indescribable. The phone here is ringing like every five minutes. People are stopping in every 10 minutes. Yesterday after the fire we had to have someone stay over past their shift just to help answer the phones. Community members and businesses – it’s coming from all over.
“The incident is unfortunate but what a lot of people fail to realize … when the fire is out the incident is not over. You have a family that has lost everything. It’s not over when the fire is out. There’s still community support that needs to happen. This community has not just given them support. They’ve gone above and beyond.”