Early one morning, around 4:30a.m., 5 year-old Matthew was awakened for a second by the smoke alarm beeping, and then he went back to sleep. Matthew says, “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.”
Matthew immediately screamed to his brother, Daniel, Jr., who was beside him, “there’s a fire!” They both jumped out of bed, ran to their parent’s bedroom screaming there’s a fire.
Both parents startled from being in a deep sleep, immediately woke up and mom (Christie) ran into the boy’s bedroom to see what was going on – to find not only the ottoman at the bottom of their bed on fire, but the entire room was fully engulfed in fire in a matter of seconds. She ran back yelling for everyone to get out of the house now! She grabbed baby Maddie, dad (Daniel, Sr.) got the boys and they frantically ran out of the house. When they were all outside and accounted for, Dad called 911.
The fire department arrived and was battling the fire, and “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 were starting 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 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 is 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. But most important to Matthew, and the only time he put his stuffed animal down was to express that he is now six years old. He isn’t five years old anymore.