The arrival of daylight did nothing to improve upon what flames had done the night before. Meredith Szostek’s home at Clark Lake was destroyed. As you will see in these forlorn photos, the fire produced devastating results, leaving nothing untouched.
Just before 9 pm Sunday evening, Kyle Main was saying good night to his daughter. Her bedroom, on the south side of the house, was immediately adjacent to Szostek’s. Both Kyle and his daughter reported smelling something like incense. They noticed a glow coming through the blinds. Upon opening them, the horrible picture greeted them. They vacated the bedroom, and Kyle rushed outdoors. Going around to the front of Meredith’s house he found her crawling down the stairs of the deck. Kyle helped Meredith to the back where her neighbor, Kristin McCarthy, brought her into the living room. The living room became a community center for a time. Along with the necessary conversations with police and firefighters, neighbors came in to comfort and support Meredith. Though mentally stressed by the awful event, she was okay.
Meredith said the first sign of trouble was a loud noise from the kitchen. This video shows the aftermath this morning and then flashbacks to last night as firefighters worked on quelling the blaze.
In all of this sadness, could any good be found? Columbia Township Fire Chief Scott Cota commented on that. “First and foremost, anyone inside escaping unharmed is most important. Second, ensuring the firefighters who bust their butts also remain safe.” Chief Cota also praised the neighbor, Kyle Main, who helped Meredith navigate from the front of her cottage to where others could help her. The upside didn’t stop there, as the story continued. There was an outpouring of help from neighbors and friends who rushed in with their support. On a cold night in January, that brought another level of warmth to the McCarthy’s living room.
Are there any lessons for the rest of us? “I tell people to save their photos on a flash drive and put it somewhere other than the house. Those pictures are a timeline of your life and you will want to save them.” And Chief Cota adds, “smoke detectors make all the difference when seconds count.”
A state investigator arrived to sift through the scene. According to the chief, a report may be available in a couple weeks.
Both residences to either side sustained some damage. Temporary repairs took place this morning on the Main’s house to the north. On Pearse’s Tamiami Lodge, the extreme heat of the flames melted the vinyl siding and cracked some windows. The Pearse’s arrived from Toledo to survey the situation and were glad to find no more damage than that.
Below are photos from last night.