Early one morning, around 4:30 a.m., 5-year-old Matthew briefly woke up by smoke alarm beeps, but he went back to sleep.
Matthew remembers, “I woke up then went back to sleep, I woke up then went back to sleep, I woke up then went back to sleep, and then I saw fire at the bottom of our bed.”
After spotting the fire, Matthew immediately screamed, “there’s a fire!” to his brother, Daniel, who was beside him.
They both jumped out of bed and ran to their parent’s bedroom screaming, “there’s a fire!”
Both parents, startled awake, immediately ran into the boy’s bedroom to see what was going on. The boys’ mother, Christy, found not only the ottoman at the bottom of their bed was on fire, but the entire room was fully engulfed in a matter of seconds. She ran back yelling for everyone to “get out of the house now!”
She grabbed baby Maddie while dad (Daniel Sr.) got the boys, and the family frantically ran out of the house. When they were all outside and accounted for, Dad called 9-1-1.
No Home, No Clothes, No Food
The fire department arrived and began battling the fire.
“We were just standing there in a daze watching our home burn to the ground within a matter of minutes,” said Christy. “Everything we have worked so hard for was in flames. It was all gone. And then I looked down at our children, and remembered it was because of the smoke detector that we were all safe. So I encourage everyone to make sure you have a working smoke detector in your home – it saved our lives.”
As they remained standing outside in the dark, the children started to get cold. They realized the only things they had were the pajamas they were wearing – not even a pair of shoes.
“It was at that point that I comprehended we were homeless – no home, no clothes and no food – we had nothing,” said the elder Daniel. “Then out of nowhere, a Red Cross truck drove up, and it was such a relief to see them. Because of the Red Cross, we didn’t have to sleep in our car. They made it possible for us to have a roof over our head – food to eat, clothes on our back and a great deal of support. We couldn’t have made it without them. Thank you, Red Cross. The work you do and the support you provide are awesome.”
Today, the family has moved into a new home, and they are slowly getting their lives back together. Matthew is still a little shy when talking about the fire. He holds his stuffed animal tightly when he talks. However; most important to Matthew, and the only time he put his stuffed animal down to chat with Red Crossers again, was to express that he’s had a birthday — he’s is now 6.
Ordinary items (a blanket, clothes, shoes, a smoke detector and more) become extraordinary for home fire survivors like Matthew’s family. Now you can help the Red Cross give back what fire takes.