CLEVELAND -- A grieving family is asking for help, after a man was killed in a fire Thanksgiving morning. His mother managed to escape, but the flames left several other families in the apartment complex without a place to live.
Around 1:30 a.m. Thanksgiving Day, flames ripped through an apartment complex on Jennings Road near Spring Road on Cleveland's west side.
The fire took the life of 30-year old Eugene Langmeyer. His mother Karen, managed to escape.
"She said she woke up and heard a hissing noise and then saw the flames and Eugene had come out. And, they were trying to put it out, and then she said 'let's go' and he went back, we think for the animals," said the victim’s great aunt Donna Crowley.
Via Facebook, we spoke to Eugene's great aunt and cousin, from the Cincinnati area. They said, firefighters discovered him in his bedroom.
"He's a gentle giant, he was kind to everyone and he loved animals and he was going to college, he wanted to get into criminal justice," said Crowley.
"He liked helping people...animals, he was just a very nice guy, like my mom said 'he was a gentle giant," said the victim’s cousin Dawn Crowley Furner.
The family has set up a GoFundMe account to help Eugene's mother rebuild her life. They said, she was still grieving the loss of her mother, Eugene's grandmother, who died about a year ago.
"My cousin, he was her right arm," said Furner.
Relatives said Eugene was his mother's best friend, roommate and her entire world. Their loved ones said the two struggled for most of their lives.
"She's worse than that now, so anything that anybody can help with is a blessing," said Furner.
The fire also displaced seven families. Investigators have not yet determined what caused it.
Meanwhile, Eugene's loved ones said despite the tragedy, they are still thinking of reasons to be thankful.
"It made me very thankful that I had that time, sometimes people can just take life for granted and you know, not be in the moment and I think yesterday, it makes you live in the moment more and enjoy life," his cousin said.