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Community comes together to support family of fire victim

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CNY/NNY/S. Tier: Community comes together to support family of fire victim
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A community is coming together to help a grieving family who lost their two-year-old son in a house fire. YNN’s Crystal Cranmore tells us about the outpouring of support in Bradford County.

TOWANDA, PA -- A makeshift memorial is growing for the victim of a deadly house fire in Towanda. Two-year-old John Yoder III and his family were asleep inside their home on the 100 block of North 4th Street when the fire broke out a little before midnight Friday night.

Yoder’s parents, Amber and John, and their infant son, Sawyer, were able to escape the fire through a second story bedroom window. Authorities say the parents were unable to rescue the two-year-old, who was found in his bedroom. The coroner’s office determined the cause of death to be smoke inhalation.

Neighbor Lisa Watson said, "It’s difficult for me to look outside the window."

Lisa Watson, who lives next door to the Yoder family has fond memories of little John.

She said, “Full of sunshine, always with a smile. And he and my daughter had a game that they'd play in the driveway where he’d bring rocks and put them in her hand and say, 'thank you' and put it in her hand, until her hands were all full.”

For Lisa Watson, the fire and the tragic loss of her neighbors' son hits close to home. In 1979, she lost her own brothers to a house fire.

Watson said, “It’s a recognition of the fact that, to wake up in the morning with nothing and to know that you have that hole that’s going to be there forever.”

Throughout the community, a big effort is now underway to help the grieving family.

Danielle Ruhf, Who Knew Consignments, said, “It’ felt like a good opportunity to let other people know there is a family in need."

At Who Knew Consignments in Wyalusing, Danielle Ruhf was touched by the tragedy and felt compelled to help. Donations are being collected here as well as other locations in Bradford County.

Danielle Ruhf said, "So far people have been dropping off clothing, formula, diapers, gift cards cash.”

On Monday alone, Ruhf says they raised up to $300 and she is encouraging more people to donate.

She said, "You never know when it's going to be you, and you always have to start at home. You have to start with your local community and it will spread from there."

Memorial services for John are on Saturday at the Bowen Funeral Home in Towanda.

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