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Florida Officer Loses Everything in a House Fire, Neighborhood Kids Work to Raise Money for Him

Stephen Thompson
Aug 06, 2022
12:50 P.M.
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An officer in Florida has every reason to be thankful as his neighborhood kids work to raise money for him after barely escaping a fire accident alive.

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After years of service to the Maitland community, School Resource Officer Josh Rotarius experienced what it felt like to receive back from society. The police officer, known to many within the community for his dedicated work as part of the Maitland PD Swat Team, suffered a terrible blow a month back when he suffered a fire accident.

The incident caused him to lose everything. But residents of the Maitland community are unwilling to stand aloof, deciding to help him get back on his feet.

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A NEAR-DEATH EXPERIENCE

On the evening of July 1, 2022, Rotarius, who has worked with the Maitland law enforcement for eight years, went fishing. Upon returning home, he fell asleep, only to be awakened moments later by the barks from his dog, a silver lab named Null.

The entire house was pitch dark and filled with smoke, with the roof aflame. Just as the Dommerich Elementary Schools resource officer fled, he realized Null was still trapped inside. He then decided to re-enter the building and free his dog.

The two eventually made it out alive, but as a result, the officer sustained severe burns to his hands and feet. He also inhaled excessive smoke in the process, barely making it to his neighbor's house to ask for help.

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Lake County Fire Rescue, Tavares Fire Department, and Mount Dera Fire Department responded to the scene. The rescue operatives managed to extinguish the fire, which made a huge hole in Rotarius' apartment, destroying everything in its way.

Other items in the building, which escaped the raging flame, ended up water-damaged, leaving the officer with nothing to salvage.

Investigators believed the home went ablaze after being struck by lightning. Thankfully, no lives were lost in the incident, and the officer received urgent medical aid and is now recuperating.

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THE COMMUNITY COMES THROUGH

Weeks after surviving the near-death encounter and losing all he owned, the Maitland community decided to give back in their little way. Several neighbors have strived to help out, contributing their quota to ensure he gets through this moment.

The most touching gesture came from the neighborhood kids, led by a 7-year-old girl, Maddie Moore. Along with her friend, the elementary schooler set up a summer lemonade stand in a show of support for the officer.

The kids successfully raised $350 through the stand. They also set up a GoFundMe page on his behalf, which garnered up to $450.

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The girls used the accrued amount to surprise Rotarius with a table full of treats, a dog bed, and doggie daycare passes. The gesture touched the officer deeply. He divulged:

"You don’t know how much people care about you until something like this happens. And then a lot of people, even little kids, do something like this to help out, help Null out. It’s amazing."

The experience made the officer realize he was not alone in his small community, with neighbors willing to give him lemonade when life tossed him lemons.

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ROTARIUS' COLLEAGUES ALSO CAME THROUGH

Aside from the massive outpour of love from his neighbors, fellow officers at the Maitland Police Department also offered Rotarius a hand in his long road to recovery.

In addition to their individual donations that kept pouring in, the officers decided to grow beards in honor of the officer, among other symbolic gestures. These gestures helped Rotarius realize how much his years of service shone through many lives. He reflected:

"You see a lot of things that are really hard. And you’re usually there to try to fix something. So when it’s other people helping you, you don’t know how to take it at first, but it definitely makes you think you’re doing a good job."

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The story of the good officer who spent years in service to his community and almost gave his life for his dog has touched many hearts since going viral.

IN HONOR OF A BRAVE COP

Many have taken to social media to send Rotarius heartfelt words while wishing him a swift and seamless recovery. Many have also commended his big heart and bravery, with the GoFundme page receiving more donations. A post on Facebook read:

“Officer Rotarius is the best. Shari, all our CCI dogs who know him (Negri, Giorgio, Nesley, Hem) send best wishes for a full and speedy recovery—both physical and for all his property.”

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Other netizens gave the kids the thumbs up for their show of kindness to a public servant, doing the little they could.

To them, such touching stories prove there is still kindness in the world and encourage others to emulate them.

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