Fire leads to beautiful social media response after family loses animals

LEROY TWP., Ohio - Firefighters say as quickly as they responded to a call about a barn fire on Indian Point Road Thursday afternoon there was still nothing they could do.

"It was a total loss from the beginning, so we worked to put the fire out, worked to save any animals we could," said Leroy Twp. Fire Chief Mike Shoff, who was first to arrive at the scene.

"I was walking out to get to the tractor to do some work and the flames -- I saw the whole barn was engulfed,"  said Don Milo, who lives nearby.

"My wife was in tears; our neighbor, Lori, was in tears and it was very heartfelt because everyone on this street has animals," said Milo.

"As an adult we learn to cope; as a child they don't understand that kind of stuff, so when you have a little girl who's looking out the back window of the house while the barn is burning down and she knows her animals are in there, you know, that's what bit at me because I have two children," said Rob Pitts, who was also at the scene.

The family reportedly lost a steer, all of their female goats, as well as a few of their newly-delivered baby goats.

The fire destroyed their hay and the feed they had for their surviving animals, in addition to tractors and other belongings that were in the barn.

"I don't have much to give, you know; I don't have animals of my own. I don't have hay or anything like that, but I feel the best thing I could do, with their permission, was put it on Facebook and see what we could get going for them," said Pitts.

The response was overwhelming.

"I know there's only a couple thousand people that live in Leroy and I figured maybe I could get ten, fifteen people saying they would be willing to help out, maybe give some feed, provide space for them or maybe help clean up the mess when the time comes, but I didn't think there would be maybe a couple thousand people sharing it all over Northeast Ohio," said Pitts.

Among them is Don Milo, who was willing to make four empty stalls in one of his barns available as well as storage for hay and feed.

Leroy Township residents say while it is what neighbors there often do for one another, the response from complete strangers has been inspiring.

In less than 24 hours, Pitts' post had been shared more than 800 times and he was fielding offers to help provide hay, feed, and even to help rebuild the barn.

"It tells me that your community is there, even though you may not have met them, and there are obviously still goodhearted people out there," said Pitts.​