The Star Beacon; Ashtabula, Ohio

December 24, 2012

UP IN SMOKE

Garage fire ruins Christmas for Jefferson family

By MARGIE NETZEL - mnetzel@starbeacon.com
Star Beacon

JEFFERSON — Billows of smoke and steam rose from the garage behind the house at 52 W. Satin St. on Sunday night, the blaze inside burning a family’s Christmas with each passing moment.

Rachel Stright stood in front of her house and cried as $10,000 in construction materials — windows, drywall and roofing materials — went up in smoke.

“We are renovating the house, so all our supplies for the construction were in that garage,” Stright said. “Actually, most of what we own was in that garage.”

Stright said the ingredients for her family’s Christmas dinner was in the refrigerator in the garage, along with toys for her children and all her family momentoes.

“My kids wanted bunk beds, so I bought the beds and I put them in the garage at about 5 p.m.,” she said. “Then we see the garage is on fire. I put those beds in there just a couple of hours ago.”

Stright said she thinks the fire may have been caused by a faulty light.

The home is insured, Stright said, but she isn’t certain of the terms of her policy.

“I don’t know if (the policy) covers the garage or the stuff in it,” she said. “Christmas is ruined. Everything is gone.”

Donations of ingredients for Christmas dinner are needed, as well as toys for Stright’s 16 and 5-year-old sons and 10 and 11-year-old daughters.

Stright also said she doesn’t know how she will afford to finish the construction projects in her house, including the drywall for the bedrooms and the roof, which is now covered in a blue tarp.

“Even my kids’ beds were in the garage,” she said. “We were working on the bedrooms, so they have been sleeping on their mattresses on the floor. They don’t even have beds now.”

To donate items for the family or to offer construction services, call Kendra Rodgers at 344-6905.

Jefferson Fire Chief John Wayman said the garage fire may have been “energized” by the stored combustible construction materials, though the official cause of the fire was unknown Sunday night.

“At this point, we have no evidence to support the cause of the fire and we will work here until we find a point of origin for the fire,” he said.

No one was injured in the fire, Wayman said, and no mutual aid was needed from other fire departments.