ANGOLA, Ind. (WANE) – A big fire early Friday morning destroyed a family’s home and vehicle in rural Steuben County about 15 minutes outside Angola, but the four people inside the house were able to escape safely.
“I remember waking up and my husband saying, ‘Oh my God! Smoke! Fire! Grab the boys, we’ve got to go!’ We grabbed the boys and grabbed the blankets … and we could barely breathe going down the stairs trying to cover them and cover us,” Stephanie Holloway said.
She and her husband, Jason, and their two children, Hunter, 2, and Houston, 8 months, made it out of the house and went to a neighbor’s house to call 911. A cat Stephanie’s had since she was eight made it out too. Their three dogs, two beagles and a shepherd, died in the fire.
“They were family members. We can’t replace them,” Jason said.
The Angola Fire Department was called to 9065 E Metz Road at 3 a.m. They arrived to find a two-story farmhouse fully engulfed in flames. Power lines had also fallen down and were arcing on a Trailblazer sitting in the driveway. That SUV also burned.
“We had to write that vehicle off, which we hate to do. It was just for our safety with live electrical lines,” TR Hagerty, the spokesman for the Angola Fire Department, said.
Because there was so much fire, crews had to fight the flames defensively from the outside. The wind also made it difficult to put out the fire, but crews were able to keep the flames away from the nearby tree, garage and propane tank. It took about an hour to get the fire under control and crews were on the scene for another hour and a half after that.
“It was so bad we didn’t have a chance to try to get anything else out,” Stephanie said. “It was popping and loud and it smelled horrible. It caved into the basement and there’s barely any floor left. It’s not even safe enough for us to go in and see if we can get any of our belongings back.”
Firefighters said there were smoke detectors inside the home, but they didn’t go off.
“It shows the importance of making sure your smoke detectors are functioning,” Hagerty said. “I’m just thankful the family got out and they’re okay.”
The house, all the belongings inside and the vehicle were total losses. Paramedics went to an area store and bought the family a new child’s car seat.
“That chokes you up a little bit. That shows you how close-knit the community is,” Hagerty said.
It’s help from the community that’s helping hold the Holloways up.
“If it weren’t for family and friends and the community, I don’t know what we’d do,” Stephanie said. “We have no clothes, no shoes. All we have is what we ran out with from bed.”
The Red Cross is also helping the family.
“I want to thank the community for what they’ve done so far. We greatly appreciate it,” Jason said. “It’s the worst feeling ever. To watch your house burn down. That’s where you live.”
The family had been renting the house for about two years. The property owner told NewsChannel 15 that his grandfather built the farmhouse in 1913.
The damage is estimated at $80,000. The cause is ruled undetermined because there’s too much damage to tell.
Anyone who would like to help the Holloway family can contact the American Red Cross at (260) 484-9336.
The other assisting departments were: Florence Twp. Fire, Northwest Twp. Fire, Hamilton Fire, Fremont Fire, Hudson Fire, Steuben Twp. Fire, Steuben County EMS, Steuben County Sheriff’s Department and the Indiana State Police.