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Otsego community steps up for displaced families after flames tear through apartment complex

After a fire displaced 16 families at the Broad Oak Apartments in Weston, Ohio on Thursday, community organizations came to help as soon as they heard the news.

WOOD COUNTY, Ohio — What started as a typical Thursday morning was quickly changed for 16 families as flames ripped through the Broad Oak Apartment Buildings in Weston, Ohio.

The families can no longer stay in their homes, and the community stepped in as soon as they heard the news. The Otsego High School was one of them.

"From a school standpoint, we pretty much stopped everything we were doing," Superintendent Kevin O'Shea said. "We knew that we had the resources here, we have toiletry showers, we have spaces for families, we pretty much started organizing all of those resources."

Firefighters said no one was hurt, but eight apartments on the east side are destroyed and a firewall saved the other eight on the west.

Investigators are evaluating the buildings and have yet to determine whether the families will be able to move back into the eight units on the west side.

Their stories inspired other organizations in the community to help, like Shelen Stevens, the director of the Weston Public Library.

"I saw a mother and two young children, just barefooted and on the sidewalk," Stevens said. "I asked them if they needed assistance, did they have somewhere to go? I said I'm opening the library and I said 'please come to the library.' And they did come in immediately."

Stevens said the Children's Resource Center, Crisis, Red Cross, counselors and many other community members stepped up.

Thursday morning, the school brought a bus to the fire to transport them to the school. Staff at Otsego Local Schools said many of the families have children, from infants to teens, and are part of the school system.

While no one was injured, the loss of a home is emotionally painful CRC Director Alicia Boreman said.

"When you think about a fire, you don't always realize that people lost everything, even down to shoes, socks, pants, different things like that," she said.

The fire was not enough to stop the community from staying strong, something O'Shea is no stranger of.

"The opportunity for us to step in and be the community that we are to just try to help out has really been what our goal's been the entire time," he said.

By Friday morning, the library was already full of donations of items for those in need and will no longer be accepting further donations at this time.

Victims of the apartment fire can pick up supplies from the library Saturday, Aug. 6, from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m.

Otsego Schools said the Red Cross is no longer in need of clothing donations. To make a monetary donation, call Red Cross at 1-800-Red Cross and ask for the Northwest Ohio Chapter.

Otsego Local Schools can be reached at 419-823-4381.

The cause of the fire is still under investigation at this time. 

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