ALLIANCE, Ohio — Days after a devastating fire raced through a home in Alliance, the Stark County community is rallying to help eight people who were left homeless.
Clothing, furniture, blankets and other items have been donated to help 18-year-old Destiny Sloat and several of her relatives.
"It's a small town, but it's amazing that so many people are helping," Sloat said.
Sloat, along with her boyfriend, Jackson Cline, and their 6-month-old daughter, Nevaeah, were in their first floor bedroom of a home they rented on Union Avenue when they heard a loud bang just before 11:30 p.m. Tuesday.
Cline opened a door leading to the kitchen, but was quickly pushed back by flames.
"As soon as I opened the door, the whole kitchen was just beet red. Everything was on fire, so I turned around and told her (Sloat) we've got to get out immediately," Cline said.
Cline helped get Sloat and the baby out of the house through the bedroom window, and moments later, the flames were raging around the entire house.
"It all happened way too fast," Sloat said. "Sometimes I still see the flames. I can barely sleep because of it."
Five other people, including three of Sloat's family members, escaped from the second floor. A cousin jumped out of a bedroom window on the second floor.
"It's a miracle that we got out and everybody made it out," Sloat said.
In addition to the family losing all of their belongings inside the home, a car used by Sloat's mother was destroyed.
Several pets were also killed in the blaze.
"There were two dogs. There were three cats. We found one of them alive. We were told there was another one alive. We haven't found him yet," Sloat said.
A ferret and two hamsters also died.
Amanda McAbee, a relative of the family, is accepting donations at her home in Alliance and has been touched by the generosity of the community. She said one man donated new shoes for all the victims.
"It's great to see the community coming together. We've had people from Alliance, Canton, Minerva like everywhere," McAbee said.
Alliance Fire Inspector Guy Aumend said the cause of the fire may never be determined because of the extensive damage. However, he does not believe that it was suspicious.
Four people were transported for treatment, but there were no serious injuries, firefighters said.
A few weeks before Thanksgiving, Sloat stressed the holidays will be very hard, but she's also counting her blessings that her family survived the fast-moving fire.
"I would never wish this on anyone, ever to have to go through this. It's frightening," she said. "We're trying to find a house and get a roof over our heads."