This family is part of the parish my grandfather serves as head priest at. Please pray for them....
Fire destroys Main Street home
By Chris Cassidy
Thursday, February 3, 2005
Mary Klinoff said her motherly instincts woke her at 2 a.m. Saturday, just as flames and clouds of smoke began swirling inside her kitchen. She stumbled outside her bedroom into the second-floor hallway where a moving fog of black smoke had crept upstairs. Immediately, she began screaming for her husband and seven children to evacuate.
She hollered down to the first floor, where her husband had drifted off to sleep by the computer 45 minutes earlier. She yelled to her 12-year-old daughter, asleep in her bedroom with the family's black Labrador retriever by her side. She ran back to her room, where her three youngest children had fallen asleep watching a movie only hours earlier. She screamed to wake up her sons, sleeping in the third-floor attic.
Before smoke and flames charred the Klinoff's Main Street home early Saturday morning, Mary, her husband, their seven children, two cats, dog, fish and two hedgehogs all escaped unharmed.
"You're overjoyed and blessed because you know you just lived the biggest miracle of your life," Klinoff said.
The only smoke detector firefighters found inside the home didn't work, according to Fire Chief Ken Willette. If Klinoff had not awoken in time, the early-morning blaze could have turned lethal.
"All the firefighters walked away from this fire thanking the good Lord we didn't have a fatality," Willette said.
By the time crews arrived, the fire had spread to the second floor and would have blocked an escape route for Klinoff's sons, sleeping in the attic.
"Without someone waking up and discovering a problem and without a smoke detector, those people would have had their exit path cut off by the fire," Willette said.
Before firefighters pulled up to the scene, Klinoff's husband ran back into the house to look for one of their children. Their oldest son futilely tried to pour water from the kitchen sink onto the flames. Moments later, they all stood together outside in the yard, barefoot, a little rattled and shivering from temperatures that bottomed out at 10 degrees below zero. Their next door neighbors, Dick and Suzanne O'Brien, who awoke to the sounds of fire-engine sirens, invited the family inside to warm up and brewed a pot of coffee for firefighters.
"We looked out the window and saw smoke coming out of everywhere," Suzanne O'Brien said. "I'd never seen anything like it before."
The three-alarm fire started in the area where the family's wood stove connects with the chimney and shot up to the second floor and across the first-floor kitchen ceiling. Four outside fire departments were called in to assist.
"It was a lot of fire for the first guys on the scene - an awful lot of fire," Willette said.
Firefighters tore open the walls and opened up the siding on the outside of the house, though flames were contained to the interior.
"They had smoke pushing out the back of the house, and through the kitchen window they could see flames," Willette said. "They knew the fire was contained inside the house, which meant we had a chance to get in there and make an aggressive attack to try to knock it down before it took more of the house." Crews brought the blaze under control within 45 minutes. The last units cleared the scene at 7:07 a.m., leaving behind a home that suffered $200,000 in structural damage and between $75,000 and $100,000 in smoke and heat damage, according to Willette.
The fire has been ruled accidental.
Meanwhile, the Klinoff family has been staying at a relative's home in Concord and trying to resume life as normally as possible. Friends and family have dropped off clothes and dinners and even offered to look after some of their pets.
Since the blaze, Mary Klinoff has visited the remnants of her home, but it's been impossible to rummage through everything.
"I know I'm going to have to sort through things, but I don't want to touch any of it," Klinoff said. "It's like everything has leprosy. Everything was touched by that horrible fire."
Saturday morning marked the second time Klinoff had survived a fire. Two years ago, a devastating blaze struck the Grasshopper Shop, the business she co-owns with her sister.
Now, Klinoff will once again begin the difficult job of rebuilding.
"Someone said I should find out who the patron saint of fire is," said Klinoff. "But they've already found me. I must be blessed to survive." http://www2.townonline.com/concord/localRegional/view.bg?articleid=177438