Jodi and Brian Young are looking forward to the holidays like never before.
A year ago at this time, they were homeless, not knowing what the next day held for them. Two months earlier, on a windy Thursday afternoon in September, their dream home — a beautiful log cabin near Lafayette — was reduced to a blackened chard frame by a roaring fire.
“We were enjoying a good life, then all of a sudden, it’s like you have nothing … not even a toothbrush,” Jodi recalled.
What they did have though was their powerful faith and strong ties with family and friends. Those were the great equalizers as they rebuilt their lives and home from the ashes.
On Dec. 1, they’ll be hosting a holiday dinner in their newly built log home that will underscore the “thanks” in Thanksgiving and the “love” of the Christmas season.
“That’s what we want to celebrate,” Brian said. “We may have lost a lot of things in that fire, but the support we received from family and friends … you just can’t put into words how much that meant.”
Neither Jodi or Brian will ever forget the afternoon of the fire.
Both were at work — Brian at American Trim in Lima and Jodi at Marathon in Findlay.
Brian recalled, “I was in a meeting with my boss when my phone rang. I turned it off and it rang twice more. Then I got a text from a neighbor to call him right away. My heart sunk as I got the news.”
Jodi was also in a meeting when Brian called. She had one thing on her mind as she raced home. “The dogs … all I could think about was the dogs were in their cages in the house.”
Their neighbor, Dan Butler, and Chuck Ganson, an Allen County sheriff’s deputy who happened to be nearby, frantically tried to free the two English springer spaniels, but were unable as the wind-whipped fire had quickly engulfed the home. It would burn for 5½ hours before firefighters from Lafayette-Jackson Township, Harrod, Westminster and Bath put it out, only to see it rekindle again two hours later.
“I cried for the house, and cried even harder for Dosi and Dunkin … they were such beautiful dogs, just four years old,” Jodi said.
Brian and Jodi stayed the next few days at the home of their daughter and son-in-law, Stephanie and Dusty Dysert. Later, they would live with their son Patrick in Ada. Putting their life back together was just beginning, however.
There was the second-guessing. Was there anything they could have done to prevent the fire? Brian said he thought he smelled something “a little unusual” when he left for work that morning, but chalked it up to a neighbor burning trash.
Then came the dealing with loss — not just of the dogs, but of personal items like photographs and family keepsakes. Also there was the shattered dream. They had lived in Ada for 23 years when they saw the log home come on the market. It was the type of home they had talked endlessly about. It was theirs for only two year before that tragic day.
There also was the waiting. They knew they wanted to rebuild a replica of the log home that burned, but couldn’t move forward until the state fire marshal and insurance company completed their investigations. That took a couple of months. The state fire marshal’s office suspected the fire was caused by something electrical, but couldn’t pinpoint it. It eventually closed the case as undetermined.
With that behind them, their insurance company told them they had a six-month deadline to buy furnishings for their new home and replace their belongings.
“You find yourself buying things for a home you don’t even have. That was so different,” Jodi said.
Later they would find out their insurance company would not be insuring their new home. “In essence, we were being dropped,” Jodi said. “We had to find a new a carrier and the rate was almost double.”
Finally, last month, on October 19th — one year and 21 days since the fire — they moved into their new log home.
All alone as evening set in, the emotions of the trying ordeal struck them.
“We poured ourselves a cup of coffee and then we had the most amazing moment,” Jodi said. “We had a home again.”
ROSES AND THORNS: The rose garden salutes a local village known for its flower power.
Rose: To the residents of Bluffton. The village recently earned an outstanding achievement award for flowers from the prestigious 2018 America in Bloom National Awards Program. Judges spent two days touring the community this summer, meeting municipal officials, residents and volunteers. Communities were evaluated on seven criteria: overall impression, community vitality, environmental efforts, heritage celebration, urban forestry, landscaped areas and flowers.
Rose: New inductees into the Delphos St. John’s Hall of Fame are Mike Zalar (Class of 1977), the late Dick Honingford (1950), Margaret Fischer(1949) and Sandy Hellman (1963).
Rose: To Kadie Hempfling, a former girls’ basketball standout at Ottawa-Glandorf High School. She made her first collegiate start in her first-ever home game, and responded with seven points and game-high totals of 17 rebounds and eight assists as BG downed Marshall. She was 3-for-4 from the field and took three charges in the win.
Rose: To Justin F. Courtney, of Ohio Northern University. He wore something pink every day in October and raised more than $10,000 for the American Cancer Society’s fight against breast cancer.
Thorn: A suspicious package that caused the evacuation of the Meijer store in Lima was found to contain a Bible and other religious items that an elderly man sought to send to President Trump.
Thorn: Douglas Adams, 18, and Brittany Hover, face theft charges after a security camera filmed them making 54 unauthorized withdrawals, worth more than $4,000, from the credit union account of Adams’ grandmother.
Thorn: The early wintery weather has caused Lima to postpone until spring its remaining street improvement projects.
PARTING SHOT: If a man says he will fix it, he will. There is no need to remind him every six months about it.
Jim Krumel is the editor of The Lima News. Contact him at 567-242-0391 or at The Lima News, 3515 Elida Road, Lima, Ohio 45807.