Maitland police grow beards to support officer injured in home fire

GoFundMe set up to help Maitland officer with expenses following home fire

After an officer lost his home in a fire, Maitland police and friends from across Central Florida banded together to support him in his time of need. (Maitland Police Department)

MAITLAND, Fla. – Maitland police are showing their support for an officer who was injured earlier this month in a home fire — one that destroyed nearly everything he owned, according to the Maitland Police Department.

Josh Rotarius, who worked as a school resource officer at Dommerich Elementary School, was asleep in his home on the evening of July 1 when his dog’s barking woke him up, police said.

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According to the police department, the house was on fire and filled with smoke, prompting Rotarius to scramble outside. However, Rotarius turned around and went back in to free his dog from a dog crate, police said.

While both escaped, Rotarius suffered burns to his hands and feet, and he had to be flown to the hospital for treatment in Orlando, police said.

Police reported that Rotarius was released two days later, though smoke, fire and water had destroyed just about everything Rotarius owned.

Rotarius’ friends and co-workers from across Central Florida began a GoFundMe to help the officer with his expenses.

In addition, officers with the Maitland Police Department decided to show their support from Rotarius by growing out their beards.

The police department said Rotarius now has temporary housing while he begins the insurance process, and he is expected to return to work early next month.

According to the Maitland Police Department, lightning was the suspected cause of the fire.

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Anthony, a graduate of the University of Florida, joined in April 2022.