April 24, 2014

Elyria
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Bank fund set up for family displaced by fire in Amherst

AMHERST — Heather Cullen woke up to a bang in her house early Thursday morning, and an hour later found herself standing outside the ruins of her family’s home.

“Nothing is salvageable,” Cullen said of the home she once shared with her husband, teenaged daughter and four animals.

Cullen, her family and her animals were uninjured but they lost almost all of their possessions in the fire that burned their house.

The blaze started about 3:30 a.m. Thursday at Cullen’s house at 6982 S. Dewey Road. Cullen was awakened by a loud noise and sent her husband, Mark Jackson, to see what had happened. Jackson saw smoke coming from the garage next to their house and immediately got Cullen, their 16-year-old daughter, their two dogs and their two rabbits out of the house, Cullen said.

According to Amherst Fire Chief Wayne Northeim, the department knows the fire started in the garage but they are investigating the cause.

Departments from Elyria and Sheffield townships and Vermilion aided Amherst firefighters in putting out the flames, which took almost an hour, according to Northeim.

The fire left the four-bedroom house’s interior ruined, he said.

For Cullen, the loss of the house itself is the most devastating result.

“We pretty much did everything on our own in that house,” Cullen said, adding that she and Jackson had lived there for three years and had recently remodeled their kitchen.

Cullen and her family have been staying with a friend of theirs and attempting to make up for what they lost.

“I used to love shopping, but today was totally exhausting,” Cullen said. Cullen said that she had to buy all of the essential items — like basic clothing — for her family again.

In an effort to ease some of the pain of their loss, Cullen’s friend, Marie Ketz, has set up a fund for the family at FirstMerit Bank where anyone can come in and donate to the “Jackson/Cullen Family.”

Cullen is able to take some solace in the fact that neighbors and friends have been helping.

“Everyone is contacting us on Facebook … we have a lot of friends,” Cullen said.

Contact Anna Merriman at 329-7245 or amerriman@chroniclet.com.