Five Lives Tragically Lost in Devastating Thanksgiving Blaze

( – Five people died in a fire in a mobile home in Ohio on Thanksgiving Day. Richland volunteer firefighters responded to a call around 7:30 a.m. Nov. 23 regarding 11547 Rainbow Lake Road in Athens County. Two mobile homes were on fire when they arrived on the scene.

Firefighters reported that the roof of one of the mobile homes had collapsed. While fighting the fire, volunteer firefighters found five people deceased inside the home with the collapsed roof. One resident who escaped from the home was transported to a local hospital, according to Brandon Klein of the Ohio Department of Commerce. Two of those killed in the fire have been reported to be children. One of the victims has been identified as Kenneth Jared Meeks, 41, but the names of the other victims have not been released.

According to a Richland Area Volunteer Fire Department representative, two people were injured by the fire and taken to local hospitals. No firefighters were injured in the blaze, which also caused damage to an outbuilding.

Besides the Richland Area Fire Department, the Albany Area Volunteer Fire Department, Athens County EMS, Athens County Sheriff’s Office, City of Athens Fire Department and York Township Volunteer Fire Department all responded to the scene.

Richland Area Volunteer Fire Department Chief Dale Sinclair said that some of the volunteer firefighters knew the residents of the mobile homes. He added that there was a plan to debrief the team to help ensure the “mental health” of the first responders was addressed.

Sinclair stated that any fatality is hard for first responders, but those with children among the fatalities are the most difficult.

The cause of the fire remains unknown. It is under investigation by the Ohio State Fire Marshal’s Office, the Athens County Coroner’s Office and the Athens County Sheriff’s Office. The fire is considered one of the deadliest fires in the area in decades.

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