HURON COUNTY, Ohio
A fire has destroyed a local family's home and left them with no place to go, just two weeks before Christmas.
The blaze started at around 6 p.m. Friday night at a home on State Route 162 in Willard.
"We had just had dinner. The lights just started flickering and I heard a noise coming from the basement, and by the time I got to the basement, the house had gone dark," said Amy Owens.
Owens said when she opened the basement door she saw sparks flying downstairs. She then sprung into action, grabbing her five kids and running to safety. Her husband, Paul, was not in the home at the time.
Within minutes, the home was engulfed in flames. Willard firefighters battled the blaze with 30,000 gallons of water, but the home was totally destroyed.
"Five kids and Christmastime ... it's really hard. Speaking to my brother on the phone last night, you could hear he was in shock," said relative Wendy Gearo.
Owens told Fox 8 News Saturday that her family lost everything in the fire including the kids' Christmas presents, which were in the basement where the fire originated. Sadly, the family's two cats and puppy also perished in the fire.
Investigators believe a faulty circuit breaker box sparked, catching a leaky oil furnace on fire. Owens said crews stuck around to console her family.
"Everybody was awesome. The firefighters were outstanding. They brought us hot chocolate and sandwiches, and they kept talking to us, making sure everything was OK," she said.
Community members have stepped up to help by contributing clothes and other items the family lost in the fire. In addition, the Red Cross in Huron County is assisting and accepting donations from those interested in helping the Owens family.
Owens says she is grateful that her children are safe and remains positive about the future.
"My five little ones are safe. We'll go on. We'll be OK."
If you would like to help the Owens family, contact the Red Cross at (419) 626-1641 or 1-800-589-2286.
(Fox 8 News reporter Todd Meany contributed to this report.)