NORTHFIELD CENTER TOWNSHIP, OH - The State Fire Marshal is investigating the cause of a deadly house explosion in Northfield Center Township on Monday night.
A family of four was killed; Jeff and Cindy Mather, both 43, and their daughters Ruthie and Allison ages 8 and 12. Mom and the girls were found all huddled together in the front of the home and dad was found in the back near the garage, according to Northfield Center Township Fire Chief Frank Risko.
"They just loved each other and they reached out and they loved the people around them wonderful people were just going to miss them so much," says family friend Ann Humphrey. "It's a loss and it's a hurt and you know you can't deny that that's very true."
The blast happened at 7486 Skyhaven Road around 8:47 p.m.
Randy Nickschinski says he was the first neighbor on the scene after the blast.
"I look out the side window and you the back of this house all on fire," says Nickschinski. He says he and his son immediately ran to the house and broke the front door down, thinking the whole time about saving anyone inside.
"Yelling, 'is anybody here?' Just yelling and going through the house real slow, but you can't see that good, and everything's just cracking and you don't know what's going to happen you don't know if everything's gonna cave in," says Nickschinski. "The noise was just eerie with the cracking, but I just wish I could have saved somebody that's where I feel I wish I could have done something better."
Chief Risko says he does not believe the explosion was related to a natural gas leak. Dominion Gas Company was at the scene on Monday night and says there were no signs of a gas leak.
The Summit County Medical Examiner is working to determine an exact cause of death.
The following statements have been released from the Fire Department and the School District.
The Mather family were faithful and founding members of the Rock Community Church. Jeff was a Deacon at the church for 13 years and both he and his wife, Cindy, and their daughters were actively involved in serving at our church and their community.
Their lives touched many people and they will be deeply missed by many. The family request that their privacy be respected and protected during this extremely difficult time.
FB STATEMENT FROM FIRE DISTRICT 27 FIREFIGHTERS' ASSOCIATION:
Our deepest condolences go out to family members that were killed in yesterday's home explosion and fire. That is the worst fire tragedy we have had in a very very long time. The State Fire Marshals Office is working with our investigators to determine the cause of the explosion. We would like to thank Macedonia, Northfield Village, Boston Heights, Twinsburg and Oakwood Fire Departments for there help yesterday. We also want to thank Summit County Sheriff's Office and Northfield Center Service Dept.
STATEMENT FROM NORDONIA SCHOOL SUPERINTENDENT DR. JOE CLARK:
As you have undoubtedly heard, a Nordonia family suffered a horrible tragedy last night. A Northfield Elementary School 2nd grader, her parents and sister were killed in a house explosion in Northfield Center. We are all deeply saddened by this loss and our deepest sympathies go out to those friends, relatives, and classmates they left behind.
Northfield has additional counselors in place to help your children with their reactions to this tragedy. Your children may have some unresolved feelings that they would like to discuss with you. You can help your children by listening carefully, not overreacting, accepting their feelings and answering questions honestly according to your beliefs. It is important to let them know their feelings, concerns and reactions are normal and that they will experience a number of emotions over the next few days and weeks. It breaks my heart to share this news with you. Parents, hug your kids extra today and may God bless you.
Clark explains how they relayed the tragedy to their students in class Tuesday morning.
"Your classmate Ruthie died in an explosion and she's not going to be back. We're going to miss her, and it's OK to be upset about that," said Clark.
He also offers this advice.
"Parents hug your kids spend time with your kids. Put the cell phones down and take every minute that you have available to spend time with your kids, read to them, play games with them and talk with them all the time," says Clark.
"Life is precious and you never know - you're going to blink your eyes and they're going to be gone one day and you pray to God that tragedies like this don't happen."
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