Week of Celebrations Turns Tragic After Fire

This is an archived article and the information in the article may be outdated. Please look at the time stamp on the story to see when it was last updated.

GREENWICH, Ohio -- This was supposed to be a week of celebrations for a Northeast Ohio family, but instead nearly everything they owned, including their home, was destroyed by fire.  But still they consider themselves blessed.

"It's a miracle we are here," said Jennifer Dotson.

Steve and Jennifer Dotson and their three teenage sons say they still have what's most important... each other.

"People talk about what you're gonna grab and everything and you don't grab anything, you are in survival mode and you get your children and you get out of the house," she said.

"It turned out to be a disaster, but we were able to get everybody out so the disaster turned out to be a miracle," said Haydon Dotson, 17.

Steve and his son Haydon had attended a football game on Saturday night.

They returned to their home in Greenwich, in Huron County, around midnight and stayed awake watching more football on TV.  That may have saved the rest of the family.

"They were the only ones awake.  I was asleep at this end of the house and the other two were asleep at the other end of the house," said Jennifer Dotson.

Steve and Haydon said they heard popping noises, which they thought was coming from the dryer.

"So when he approached the hallway and the laundry room door, then he could see orange in the garage area and he went to the door and opened it, which created a backdraft or something and blew him in," Jennifer said.

"I woke up and I just heard dad saying, 'we're on fire, we're on fire,' and all chaos from there," said Brady Dotson, 13.

Tuesday was Noah Dotson's 16th birthday.  Steve and Jennifer were planning to celebrate their 20th wedding anniversary on Wednesday.  And this weekend is homecoming at Haydon's high school and he made the homecoming court.

Despite the tragedy, the family still feels blessed... they are alive and they thank the community for offers of food, clothing, hugs and prayers.

"I don't even know how to repay all of them back, I mean it's just crazy," said Haydon Dotson.

"I need to reiterate how thankful we are to the local community... friends, churches, everybody who stopped by to see us, we appreciate it, we are very blessed," Steve Dotson said.

The Dotsons said investigators told them the fire started in their garage, but the cause remains undetermined.

They are temporarily living with relatives.