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NEWCOMERSTOWN, Ohio (WJW) — Red Cross and village officials on Saturday plan to visit the neighborhood where a family of six perished in a house fire the day after Christmas, to install free smoke alarms and talk about fire safety.
The joint effort between the American Red Cross of Heartland, Stark and Muskingum Lakes and Newcomerstown village officials follows “the devastating loss” in the Dec. 26 house fire at the family’s Spaulding Avenue home, reads a news release.
“This event, tragic as it is, has allowed us to partner with community groups and village officials to help make Newcomerstown a safer community,” Tim O’Toole, regional disaster officer for the American Red Cross of Northern Ohio, is quoted in the release.
Neighbors of the family said Leroy Elliott Jr., Terrin Hendricks and their four daughters ages 5 to 14 were like extended family.
“The mother, she had a heart of gold. I mean, the children did no wrong. If you needed something, Terrin was there. Leroy was the greatest father to their children. He would have done anything to protect those babies and I know for a fact that he went down fighting to protect those kids,” said Adrianna Clay.
State fire investigators on Dec. 27 said they found evidence that several types of alternative heating sources were being used in the home: a wood burner, kerosene heaters and electric space heaters. But the day after the house burned to the ground, state investigators hadn’t found any evidence of smoke alarms in the home.
The Saturday home visits are part of the Red Cross’ “Sound the Alarm. Save a Life.” initiative, which will also include a community-wide event to install smoke alarms in homes and help families create a two-minute fire escape plan.
“We hope this larger, community-wide event will help us rally the community around the fire safety theme,” said O’Toole. “It’s important for people to know how having working smoke alarms can reduce by half the risk of serious injury or death due to home fires.”