After a fire ripped through their South Toledo home and destroyed everything they owned last month, a family of five said they’ve received an outpouring of support.
While they’ve received clothing, school supplies for the children, and monetary donations, a local organization is on a mission to make sure the family — a couple with three children — have a happier holiday.
Haylee Crawford, left, 13, and her mother Stacey Kennedy, right, comfort each other while Ronald Williamson, right, talks about the fire that recently destroyed their house at 404 Spencer Street.
The Blade/ Amy E. Voigt
Holiday Angels — Toledo, a group dedicated to helping families particularly around Christmas, is collecting gift cards, household items, hygiene products, clothing, and other necessities.
The home, located in the 400 block of Spencer Street, was only a few blocks away from Holiday Angels – Toledo Executive Director Melanie Cox’s own home.
“It’s heartbreaking, even for me, and it wasn’t my family,” Ms. Cox said. “It’s our responsibility to take care of one another.”
Donations can be dropped off at Toledo Hemp Center, 815 Phillips Ave., or Rooter Pro, LLC, 4924 Summit St., up until Dec. 15.
“I didn’t think there was any humanity left here in Toledo, honestly,” said Ronald Williamson III, 34, who lived at the Spencer Street home. “I’ve been here all my life and I’ve never come across any situation in my life to where I’ve seen any type of support that can even measure up to what has been done.”
Mr. Williamson said his children’s school has also been supportive.
Mr. Williamson, his fiance, Stacey Kennedy, his sister, Ashley Westfall, and three children, spent the evening Nov. 25 watching movies at the residence in the 400 block of Spencer Street, which they rented. They all fell asleep in the same area, the family said.
Shortly before 3 a.m., the family was awakened. Mr. Williamson said flames were shooting out of the wall from a socket and the couch caught fire.
Mr. Williamson tried to pull the couch outside. But the flames spread too quickly.
The family ran outside, but when the couple and two of the children, Hayley Crawford, 13, and Brandan Crawford, got outside, Ms. Kennedy realized her 5-year-old son, Walter Lanham and Ms. Westfall weren’t with them.
Ms. Kennedy cried out to her fiance.
Mr. Williamson ran back into the home to get his son, who was aimlessly wandering around in the living room. He grabbed him, cradled him in his arms, and rolled over the burning couch.
They were both burned getting out of the home and were treated at Mercy Health St. Vincent Medical Center, according to police.
“If it wasn’t for him [Mr. Williamson], Walter wouldn’t be here,” Ms. Kennedy, 33, said with tears falling from eyes. “He was already disoriented.”
Ms. Westfall, 27, tried to go out another door of the home, but lost consciousness, according to a police report. She was trapped near a boarded door, but was later rescued.
The family’s dog died in the fire, and they also lost all of their belongings.
The family was staying in a hotel since the fire, but are now staying with family.
“I feel lost. Lost, but our faith is growing each day,” said Mr. Williamson.
Initial reports showed the fire may have been caused by a space heater that was near a couch, according to Toledo Fire Department spokesman Pvt. Sterling Rahe. After further investigation, the cause of the fire was undetermined due to the extensive damage.
The only thing nearly recognizable among the rubble was a melted, plastic toy.
Additionally, there were no working smoke alarms in the home, said Private Rahe.
The Blade attempted to reach Larry Hutton, the family’s landlord, but the mailbox to his phone was full, and an address was unavailable.
Despite the incident happening right before the holidays, Ms. Kennedy said the family feels grateful for the support and to be together. It’s made her look at things differently.
“You never know what’s going to happen. Any little arguments, people should just forgive and let go,” she said. “You don’t even know. You could have everything one day and the next day, everything could be gone. Everything.”