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Fire Claims 2 Lives in Quaker City

QUAKER CITY, Ohio — A Barnesville Elementary School student and her father died in a structure fire early Thursday, leaving two communities in mourning.

According to Brian Bohnert, public information officer with the Ohio Department of Commerce speaking for the Ohio Fire Marshal’s Office, the fire occurred at 278 Smith Ave. in Quaker City. The Quaker City Fire Department was the lead department on the fire.

“We can confirm there was a fire reported at 3:34 a.m. Thursday inside a two-story home. There were two adults and two children living in the home at the time of the fire. Unfortunately, we had two fatalities — one adult and one juvenile. Another adult and juvenile sustained injuries,” he said.

Bohnert said the blaze destroyed the home. The roof and second floor collapsed into the first floor and partially into the basement. He said as of Thursday afternoon, the cause of the fire was listed as undetermined.

“It is still very much under investigation,” he said, noting no indications of anything suspicious had been found.

The Daily Jeffersonian of Cambridge reported that Steve Myers, 42, and his 5-year-old daughter, Lydia, died in the fire. Guernsey County Coroner Dr. Sandra Schubert told the Jeffersonian that autopsies are scheduled for Friday at the Licking County Coroner’s Office.

Lydia’s 7-year-old sister, whose name was not released Thursday, was transported by MedFlight to Akron Children’s Hospital.

The girls’ mother was transported by United Ambulance to Southeastern Med in Cambridge, where she reportedly was treated in the emergency department and later released.

Authorities also declined to release her identity, according to the Jeffersonian.

According to reports at the Guernsey County Sheriff’s Office, multiple 911 calls were received at approximately 3:34 a.m. reporting the fire in the 300 block of Smith Avenue. Firefighters from the Quaker City, Senecaville, Lore City, Fairview, Antrim and Barnesville departments were dispatched along with United Ambulance and sheriff’s deputies and found the home fully engulfed on arrival.

The sheriff’s office reported the mother and 7-year-old girl were outside the home when firefighters arrived.

Barnesville Elementary Principal Clint Abbott confirmed that Lydia Myers was enrolled as a kindergarten student at that school. He said she and her sister, a second-grader, were attending classes in the district via its open enrollment program.

Abbott said he spoke with the girls’ grandmother on Thursday. She told him the mother had traveled to the Akron hospital to be with her surviving daughter, and that it was hoped the child would be released from the hospital today.

Abbott said upon learning of the deaths Thursday morning, he began the day by meeting with a crisis management team, including representatives of the Village Network youth behavioral health organization. The team decided the matter would not be discussed openly with students on Thursday; instead, Abbott made calls to the families of each child in the homerooms of the Myers children and explained the situation to them. A parent broadcast was also sent out to all families with children in the school.

“It may be the first time these students have experienced the loss of a friend or family member. … At such a young age, we wanted parents to have the opportunity to talk with their children first, especially when delivering such devastating news,” Abbott said.

Abbott added that counselors were available Thursday to talk with any children who had heard about the fire. Counselors will continue to be available to staff and students in the coming days, he said, and school officials will visit each classroom today to talk with the children about the incident.

In addition, Barnesville Hutton Memorial Library is working with the school to put together a collection of age-appropriate books about loss and death for parents and children to use if they choose to do so.

“Our sympathy goes out to the Myers family,” Abbott said. “This is such a great community, and everybody wants to help as much as possible.

“They were a family that everybody knew,” he continued. “We want to make sure our students are fine across the district. We will have support in place across the district.”

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