BRADFORD – The Village of Bradford began to gather early Tuesday morning in support of a local family after tragedy struck Monday evening claiming the life of a 12-year-old boy in a fatal structure fire.
At approximately 11:08 p.m., emergency personnel from the Bradford Fire Department responded along with Bradford Rescue and mutual aid from area departments, that included the Versailles, Covington and Piqua Fire Departments, to 420 North Miami Avenue in Bradford in reference to a residential structure fire.
According to an earlier interview by Assistant Fire Chief Dave Richard, of the Bradford Fire Department, fire crews arrived on the scene to find residents of the home trapped on the upper floors requiring rescue from firefighters.
After the rescues were made, firefighters were forced to go into a defensive attack after the interior became unsafe with ceilings falling in. At least three people were treated for smoke inhalation and injuries sustained during their efforts to escape from the inferno and transported from the scene to an area hospital.
A resident of the home, identified as 12-year-old Kaleb Huff, was discovered deceased in an upstairs bedroom of the structure.
“It all happened so fast it was kinda fuzzy”, stated 16-year-old Aiden Beachler as he stood in front of The Refinery Coffee House accepting donations for the Huff family just a couple short blocks away from the fire.
“I woke up and saw the fire and ran outside and actually grabbed a ladder from our garage to help one of the homeowners from the front porch roof. I could barely see him from all the smoke coming from the upstairs but I could hear him and was able to guide him to the ladder”, he continued. “The other homeowner, the mother, was on the phone with 911 but because she was distraught and unable to talk I spoke with the dispatchers for what seemed like 20 minutes trying to describe to them what all was going on. After that, I tried my best to comfort the family and help out in any way I could.”
The community began gathering in support of the Huff family early Tuesday morning after a Facebook post from a next-door neighbor, Athena Beachler, asked for donations in honor of the family in their time of loss.
The Donations began flowing in and quickly outgrew the Beachler home prompting The Common Ground Christian Church to donate their services and facilities at The Refinery Coffee House.
Residents of Bradford and surrounding communities made countless donations including clothing, food, hygiene products, baby furniture and money.
“We are a small tight knitted community”, stated one of the volunteers. “A loss of life is a hard-hitting event that affects all of us. We want the Huff family to know you are in all our of hearts and prayers”.
No ruling has been made on the cause or nature of the fire. The incident remains under investigation by the Bradford Fire Department and the Ohio State State Fire Marshal’s Office.
PHOTO CAPTION: Location of the Monday evening Bradford fatal structure fire. (Jim Comer photo)