Sylvania Twp. family that lost everything in a fire shares valuable lessons

By  | 

Sylvania Twp. (13abc Action News) - A Sylvania Township family is picking up the pieces after fire tore through their home. Reeves and Amy Northrup lost nearly all their material possessions.

The fire broke out about 3:30 in the morning on Wednesday. The family got out safely, and they do have insurance.The main reason they are sharing their story is so that no one else has to go through this. They learned several valuable lessons they want to share with everyone.

There's not much left of the Northrup's home. Almost everything was destroyed in the fire. Reeves and his family were back at the house today, "It's all gone, but we're not. That's what is important. As difficult as it is to have lost so much, we can replace all the things. We are lucky we all made it out. We are taking things one day, one minute at a time."

The charred remains of family memories are everywhere from pictures to special pieces of furniture. Amy says amazingly a few things were not heavily damaged," The funny thing is that with all the things that were destroyed, here's a Kleenex box that is almost just like it was before the fire."

Amy had a cold and was staying in a different bedroom than her husband that night. She was having trouble sleeping and went downstairs to the kitchen, " Thank God I had insomnia and couldn't sleep that night.".

When she went back upstairs she heard what she describes as a faint voice from the smoke detector saying fire. She says if she had been staying in the master bedroom she may not have heard the alarm, "It was surreal, so surreal. It was amazing how fast it went. I was in the kitchen just five minutes before that. I didn't see anything or smell anything, and I had the lights on."

Amy raced to get Reeves, and she carried four-year-old Yvan out of the house, a boy from Africa who has lived with the family since coming here for medical treatment, "I thought to myself I don't even know if I can make it down the stairs. For a split second you think of retreating, but then you realize it will only get worse. I just buried Yvan's head in my chest, took a deep breath and ran out the front door."

The fire was fast-moving and hot. In fact, a Lieutenant on the scene says it was the hottest fire he has experienced on the job during his 17-year career.

Once they were out of the house, Reeves quickly realized they needed to call for help. They pounded on a neighbor's door and when they got no response, he knew he had to act quickly. He says he made the wrong decision when he went back into the home for his phone. He made it up the stairs in a matter of seconds, but by the time he got back to the stairs the flames were hotter and it was harder to see.

Reeves says he wants to make sure others don't make the same mistake by going back in to a burning structure, "It happened so quickly, you just don't have time to even think about what you need to do."

Once the family was out, they realized their dog Jet was still trapped inside. They frantically asked firefighters to look for their 9-year old Cockapoo, "By the time they got him, he had been in there for more than an hour. When he came out he was limp and they had the oxygen mask on him. My sister and I rushed him to the vet. And he's going to make it? Yes, he's going to make it. He is not walking yet, but he is standing and he knows all of us. The vet says he is going to live."

Investigators say the fire started in the kitchen. Amy says the likely cause is a charger,"There are a couple suspicious things, but the most likely thing they are looking at is a charger that was plugged in with a lithium battery in the kitchen."

Through it all, Reeves and Amy haven't lost their sense of humor,"I made a lot of great meals in that oven, just kidding! Anyone who knows me knows that I didn't use it much."

The Northrups say they have been reminded of several vital lessons.
Make sure you have working smoke detectors, an escape plan and practice that plan.Amy says they're grateful for all the support from family and friends , "We're staying at my dad's for now. We'll look for a place to stay, and we'll re-build. It's going to be better, it's our new chapter."

The Sylvania Township Fire Chief says the investigation is continuing.
He says at this point investigators are not 100% certain the fire was in fact started by a charging system, but says the charger was near the origin of the fire.

National Fire Prevention Week starts Sunday. If you need help with getting smoke detectors for your home, the Sylvania Township Department will provide up to three of them free, and install them for you.