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Donations being accepted by church for fire survivor

MARTINS FERRY — A local church is seeking to help one of its own members following a devastating fire on Friday in the city.

Grace Presbyterian Church is seeking donations to help David Sullivan, whose home at Hickory and South 10th streets caught fire Friday afternoon. In addition to his home and belongings, Sullivan also lost his partner, Jay Thomas, who died while trying to escape the fire.

The Rev. William Webster, pastor of Grace, said donations are being accepted by the church and can be mailed to Grace Presbyterian Church, 7 N. Fourth St, Martins Ferry, OH 43935. Sullivan’s name should be written on the check’s memo line. Donations can also be made via Paypal on the church’s website.

Martins Ferry volunteer firefighters were called to the scene about 3 p.m. Friday. The two-story structure was engulfed. Smoke could be seen across the city from the blaze.

Webster on Monday described Thomas as a kind, generous person who loved to cook for his church family.

“Jay was a phenomenal cook. I never liked cold macaroni salad. … He said you’ve got to try mine — it was incredible,” Webster said. “He was an artist when it came to food.”

Together the men were active members of the church. In the youth area of the church, Sullivan painted Martins Ferry City School DIstrict’s Purple Riders emblem on a wall, and it was Thomas’ idea to use carpet squares on the floor so they could be replaced if stained from spills.

Webster described Thomas as a “caring, loving soul.”

“It went up really fast. David tried getting Jay out, but he couldn’t do it,” Webster said, noting both men used canes to help themselves walk.

Webster said in addition to losing his partner, Sullivan lost all of his belongings in the fire as well.

“This is a small town and we take care of each other. And one of our guys really needs help right now,” he said.

Firefighter Jack Regis Jr., who also serves as the city’s safety director, said officials with the Ohio Fire Marshal’s Office were expected to be back on the scene Tuesday to finish their investigation.

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