Hundreds gather to remember family killed in Northfield Center house explosion

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NORTHFIELD CENTER, Ohio – A tearful tribute Friday night as a community tries to come to grips with a horrific tragedy.

Hundreds of people gathered on Skyhaven Road in Northfield Center Friday night to remember a family of four killed in an explosion and fire Monday evening.

They honored the family with a growing memorial in front of their home. They also gathered in the rain in a neighbor's driveway across the street to watch a touching tribute to the Mather family, Jeffrey and Cynthia, 8-year-old Ruthie and 12-year-old Alyson.

“It’s a tragedy and you know, it’s our neighbors and it could’ve really happened anywhere and it’s just really unfortunate that it had to happen and to happen so close to our homes,” said neighbor Holli Corneli.

The state fire marshal has ruled the fire was intentionally set. The Summit County Medical Examiner is investigating the possibility of a murder-suicide. But family, friends and neighbors say none of that matters on this night, they want to remember a family they say touched many lives.

“These are our friends, there’s a void in our heart, a loss that we have, let’s focus on the memories of the good times and make sure that we get together and stay whole and that we heal together,” said family friend and local pastor Michael Wolfe.

Around 8:30 p.m., the large crowd gathered for a moment of reflection in front of the Mathers' charred home, then walked around the neighborhood in solemn remembrance. Walking along with them...the family dog, Ruger, who escaped the fire when a neighbor broke down the door in an attempt to rescue the family.

“It sad that it had to be our neighbors,” Corneli said.