Family ‘had no idea’ house was on fire

Published 6:32 pm Wednesday, May 25, 2011

From staff reports

Janelle McKinney and her extended family were enjoying a Sunday afternoon cookout, relaxing on the front porch, when a passerby asked them a frightening question.

“They said, ‘did you know your house is on fire?’” McKinney said Wednesday. “We looked up and the top was engulfed in flames … we had no idea.”

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The house, located in the 1200 block of North Three Notch Street, was destroyed in the fire.

According to McKinney, the fire marshal indicated the fire may have been electrical in nature.

“He said that maybe a squirrel or some rodent had gotten into one of the attic areas and chewed on a wire.”

In fact, said McKinney, the children had been playing games in an upstairs room when they said they were moving downstairs because smoke was blowing in the window.

“They thought it was coming from the grill … The ceiling on top of them was on fire, and they didn’t even know it,” she said.

“I’m just thankful it wasn’t at night, when everyone was asleep, because the children slept upstairs and I slept downstairs.”

McKinney, her husband and two children had lived in the home for a year before the fire. “We had a 15-year-lease on it,” she said.

In the days since the fire, she’s been trying to put the pieces of their lives back together, filing Red Cross paperwork for assistance; trying to find a place to live; and wondering what to do next.

“I couldn’t even send my children back to finish school because their uniforms were burned up in the fire,” she said.