Ohio pastor, 2 sons he tried to save die holding hands in house fire

The late Pastor Mark Robinette, 55.
The late Pastor Mark Robinette, 55. | Screengrab: YouTube/Mark Robinette

An Ohio pastor and father of eight who did extensive missionary work died holding the hands of two of his sons as he tried saving them from a fire that destroyed their family home shortly after midnight Tuesday.

The late pastor, Mark Robinette, 55, started Foundation Church in 2000, and had been in ministry for 23 years at the time of his death, according to the church’s website.

His brother, Paul Robinett, announced his passing in a Facebook post on Tuesday afternoon.

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“Last night around midnight, my brother Mark Robinette lost his life trying to save the lives of two of his children. A fire broke out in the house,” Robinett began. “Mark was able to get Andrea and two children who were sleeping upstairs out of the house to safety, but when he tried to rescue the other two children who were still in their bedrooms upstairs, they all perished in the fire. Please keep his wife Andrea Trapani Robinette and the children in your prayers.”

Haley McGuire, the pastor’s cousin, identified the pastor’s sons who died in the fire as Gideon, 17, and Liam, 10.

“He managed to throw his wife and other children out the windows, and went in to get his other two sons, Gideon (17) and Liam (10). He was found holding onto them both, the 3 of them never made it out,” McGuire said in a statement on Facebook.

The fire was reported at about 12:30 a.m. Tuesday, The Columbus Dispatch reported. The Pickaway County Coroner's office confirmed that three people died in the fire. Another three people who were treated at an area hospital for injuries suffered in the blaze were released later Tuesday morning. The cause of the fire is still undetermined, but Ohio’s State Fire Marshal's office is investigating.

Mike Comer, another of the pastor’s cousins, told WLBT that he drove from West Virginia to support that pastor’s family through the tragedy.

“I just came up here to be with the family. They’ve lost everything,” Comer said. “There are a lot of needs. They don’t even have shoes. … They’re going to need some help, but they need our prayers and anything we can do for them.”

Multiple videos on the late pastor’s YouTube page, which has nearly 5,000 subscribers, highlights his missionary work in Myanmar. He was also working on publishing a book.

In a statement Tuesday, the Greater Columbus Right to Life said they were devastated by the news of Pastor Robinette’s death and revealed that he was a member of their board of trustees.

“Mark was a fierce and impassioned defender of the vulnerable, with a special motivation to serve God, his family and church, the people of Myanmar, and the unborn,” the organization said. “He, his beloved wife Andrea, their eight children, and members of their church were not just stalwart sidewalk advocates — they were like family to many of our team.”

A GoFundMe Campaign seeking to raise $100,000 to help the pastor’s surviving family members has already raised more than $38,000 in one day.

Contact: Follow Leonardo Blair on Twitter: @leoblair Follow Leonardo Blair on Facebook: LeoBlairChristianPost

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