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Rural Seneca family thankful everyone's OK following Thanksgiving fire

A family in rural Seneca find themselves thankful they still have each other after losing just about everything else in a Thanksgiving morning fire.

Mary Grzywa said in a manner of minutes of discovering the fire at 2461 N. 2409th Road, they knew they were going to lose their two-story home.

“It was shockingly, shockingly fast," Mary said in a phone call Saturday.

Her husband Steve had woke up around 5 a.m. to begin cooking for the holiday and after placing some charcoal on a grill around 15 feet from the home he went inside to get a turkey from the garage and check the recipe.

Within five to 10 minutes, a noise was overheard from outside and their 9-year-old grandchild woke up and noticed the fire.

All Mary could see from her window was a bright orange glow, but a fire had started up the side of their vinyl-paneled home and was on its way to the attic.

“I rushed downstairs and went pounding on the doors down the hallway,” Mary recalled.

Mary and Steve had their two daughters, a son-in-law and seven grandchildren in the home.

Within minutes they were gathered on the front lawn, some in their underwear with no shoes and coats.

“Really, within 10 minutes we could obviously tell the house was gone. It is a big pit in the ground. There is nothing to salvage,” Mary said. “That was our feeling right away. And I know it’s very surreal and hasn’t sunken in yet for anyone.”

A few kids lamented the loss of pies that were baked the day prior in anticipation of the holiday.

Soon afterward, neighbors came out in support of the family as well as the firefighters tending to the blaze.

“Before we knew it, we were dressed in other people’s clothes,” Mary said.

Since the fire, the homeowners have been told that insurance will cover the damage, which includes a car that was parked next to the house.

In the days since, the family has bought new clothing and found a hotel room to stay at until temporary housing can be arranged. They’ve also been attempting to replace some of the immediately important items, by going car shopping and getting new driver’s licenses.

She said the family has been incredibly appreciative of the support the community has shown thus far but said while they appreciate offerings of clothes or replacement items they don’t have a place to store anything yet.

“It makes no sense for us to have anything until we are settled. What I have said would be most helpful is for people to have us over and give us a cup of coffee in a couple of weeks when things settle down,” Mary said. “That’s the kind of help that’s really, really going to be needed.”

As a whole, Mary said the fire was “a minor hiccup” for the celebration of Thanksgiving.

They instead traveled to visit nearby family and celebrate Thanksgiving with them, determined to not spoil the holiday.

“And there was pie, so the kids were happy,” Mary said with a laugh.

She said ultimately they were thankful from the support of the neighborhood as well as the many firefighters both on the scene as well as those that prepared her grandkids for such an event at school.

She said when banging on doors and letting the kids know about the fire, they were quick to leave behind personal possessions and exit the home while assisting others.

“They understood that this is something where you didn’t take time to dawdle or grab things. They just went and I believe it’s due to the training the fire departments give our kids (in schools),” Mary said.

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