ELYRIA — With her right hand covering her mouth, all Tina Tompkins could do was cry.
The house she and her husband owned and rented out is now just a blackened shell. A fire gutted the house at 304 Clinton Ave. on Monday afternoon, leaving the elderly tenant homeless.
“We’ve never had to deal with anything like this,” Tompkins said. “So now I don’t know what to do.”
Tompkins first heard about the fire from her husband, George, who called her while she was at their Elyria Township home. Their renter called her husband while he was at church in Elyria to let him know what happened.
“She doesn’t know how it started,” George Tompkins said. “All she said was the back of the couch was on fire so she got out of the house.”
Tina Tompkins said her first thought was for the renter, a stroke victim who lived alone. The woman got out safely, however, and was surrounded by friends and family on the sidewalk outside the home where they prayed and sang religious hymns.
“The main thing is that she’s OK,” she said.
Elyria Assistant Fire Chief Ron Brlas said the fire began on the east wall of the living room, possibly as a result of an electrical issue.
Crews extinguished the fire, which began about 5:52 p.m., in about 10 minutes, Brlas said. He estimated the damage at $50,000 to the structure and $25,000 to the home’s contents. He said the woman who lived there went to stay with a sister.
Contact Adam Wright at 329-7155 or firstname.lastname@example.org.