MARIETTA - A Fearing Township family is thanking God for delivering them safely from the fire that destroyed their home and the community for providing for them after the blaze.
"We are so thankful that God got us out of that house," said Becky Moore, whose Stanleyville Road home she shared with her son, daughter-in-law and three grandchildren was gutted by flames overnight on Oct. 29.
As for the donations of money, clothing and more that have come from churches, Putnam Elementary School where two of her grandchildren attend and friends and strangers alike, Moore said her family is "truly blessed."
"Without those people, we would just have nothing," 11-year-old Hailey Moore said.
The fire was extinguished early Tuesday morning by four area fire departments. Among them was the Fearing Volunteer Fire Department, which Becky Moore and her late husband, Allen, helped start in the early 1970s. Their son, Scott, was among the firefighters responding.
"You don't notice. You're just doing your job," Scott Moore said of fighting a fire at the house in which he grew up. "After the fact, it's a different story."
The Ohio Fire Marshal's Office ruled the cause undetermined but said there was no evidence of a crime.
"There were several accidental causes that could not be ruled out in the area of origin, electrical causes," said Shane Cartmill, public information officer with the fire marshal's office.
The fire started in the basement, and Becky Moore said an insurance investigator blamed it on wiring connected to the hot water tank.
Awakened by a smoke alarm after 11 p.m. that Monday, family members looked through the house but could not find the source of the smoke they smelled until they spotted a cold air return glowing "cherry red," said Ray Moore, Becky's son.
By the time he called 911, the house had filled with smoke.
"Within two minutes there was absolutely nothing, you couldn't see anywhere," Becky Moore said.
Becky, Ray, his wife Trisha and their children Hailey, Anna and Mac, got safely out of the house. The children were taken to a nearby relative's, where Hailey wrote a letter to the firefighters battling the blaze.
"She just wanted to tell them that they were her heroes," Becky Moore said.
The family has been staying with relatives and friends. They returned to the house last Wednesday, where the children got a look at the aftermath.
"Some stuff is good and bad," said 5-year-old Mac. "I had a piggy bank that melted and one piggy bank that's still good."
Seven-year-old Anna described the house as "the big old mess."
Becky Moore said all that remains of the hall floor on which they walked out of the house is a single support beam.
"That floor is only this wide now," she said, holding her hands about six inches apart.
The children also returned to school on Wednesday, with many of their classmates asking them questions about the ordeal. That curiosity was turned into a learning experience as family members assembled a poster of pictures of the burned-out house and brought it to the school Friday.
"We wanted to show the kids what a fire alarm is good for," Ray Moore said. "That's the only thing that saved us."
On Friday, the family attended Putnam's Movie Night, an event held by the PTO every other month to provide a family activity and raise money for new playground equipment at the school. But Friday's proceeds were instead going to the Moores.
"We felt that with the family being in the situation that they are that it was best to give back this time," said Putnam PTO President Kathryn Hartline.
Principal Jona Hall said some children brought in money from their piggy banks to give to the family.
"Overwhelmed would be a good word," Becky Moore said. "The children here have emptied their piggy banks for the grandkids."
Ray Moore said they'd already taken two or three truckloads of donated items from the school last week and would probably have to make a couple more trips to get what awaited them Friday.
The Moores have even received donations and offers of help from friends of friends from New York, New Jersey, Georgia and Tennessee who heard about their situation on Facebook.
"It's just been amazing, the calls of 'Let us know what you need.' ... People have offered furniture and appliances," Becky Moore said.
Becky Moore continues to stay with family. Ray Moore said they've been given a place to stay by a neighbor while they continue to fix up a house into which they were already planning to move.