Shupp family displaced after house fire, but NL community 'has come together'

Cary Ashby • Updated May 30, 2018 at 8:39 AM

NEW LONDON — The residents of New London have stepped up to the plate to provide whatever assistance they can to the family of Steve and Kendra Shupp, who lost their house in a fire early Monday.

“Everybody has come together and supported them so much … any way and every way they can,” said one of the Shupps’ neighbors, Gayle Morey.

New London Volunteer Fire Chief John Chapin said the Shupp family, which includes Steven Michael, Grace and Brayden, are “devastated,” but after the community sought donations, there has been an “awesome” amount of generosity and the fire station has an “overload of clothes and toiletries.” On Monday night, firefighters took two pickup trucks full of donations to the Murray Road house where the Shupps are living right now.

“It’s a fully furnished house,” added Chapin, referring to the home with three bedrooms and two bathrooms. “We’ve received a lot of cash donations too.”

The family’s insured house at 69 Sherman St., New London, has been destroyed.

“It’s a total, total loss,” Chapin said.

The blaze also did significant damage to the siding to the residences on either side, at 71 and 65 Sherman St.

Leslie Knott, of 65 Sherman St., said the blaze cracked two of her windows and since the wind was moving west — away from her house — early Monday morning, the other house had two windows blown out.

Steven Michael Shupp’s Honda Accord, which remains in the driveway beside the house, has been gutted.

Sixteen firefighters responded to the house fire after the call came in at 1:49 a.m. Monday. The blaze wasn’t under control until about 4.

“It was a battle,” Chapin said. “The structure was compromised. We could not make entry. We had to fight most of it from the outside, with ladders and such.”

The fire started in the living room, which is in the front of the house.

“We know where it started based on witness statements,” Chapin said.

“Steve and Steven were outside at the time,” the fire chief added. “When they turned the movie off is when they heard the beep beep (of the smoke detectors).”

The cause of the fire is unknown at this time. Chapin said investigators with the state fire marshal’s office are expected to process the scene today to determine what started the blaze.

The elder Shupp shared with Fox 8 what he and his son experienced.

“We started hearing a beep, like a beep, beep, beep, beep. We kind of looked at each other like, ‘What is that?’ and it hit us pretty much at the same time, ‘It's the smoke detector.’ (When I) ran in the house, the whole house (was) engulfed in smoke,” he said.

Chapin said Shupp went into the house while “the fire was raging” and got his wife and their other two children out of their residence.

“By the time we made it around to the front of the house, the whole front, the living room was gone and the easeway up to the upstairs bedroom where my little sister was asleep just minutes before,” Shupp’s son, Steven Michael, told Fox 8.

Knott, the Shupps’ neighbor for the last seven years, said she and her husband Matthew were sleeping when they heard someone banging on their door. Shupp told them his house was on fire, she said, “so get out of yours.”

“I went back inside and got my kids out,” Knott added. “By the time I came outside, the whole house was completely engulfed.”

The Knott family met near the fence in front of the house where Morey and her fiance, Steve Manusco, live. Manusco and Shupp each are deputies with the Huron County Sheriff’s Office.

Morey said she and her fiance woke up to Grace Shupp to her knocking on the door nearest their bedroom.

“She’s just screaming and falling to the ground,” Morey added.

The neighbor hugged the teenage girl and told her the important thing is her family got out of the house safely. 

“That’s what matters,” added Morey, who saw flames coming from the front window of the living room and nearly reach the second floor.

The Shupps lived in the Sherman Street house for nearly 20 years.

“They’re great; they’re wonderful. They will do anything for anybody, any place, any where,” said Knott, their next-door neighbor.

The elder Shupp and his son serve with the New London Volunteer Fire Department. The younger Shupp also is a volunteer firefighter in Willard and a member of the Army National Guard.

“They both also run for the Firelands Ambulance Service,” Chapin said.

The fire is one of several recent tragedies. The elder Shupp suffered a recent heart attack and neighbors said his wife Kendra is in remission from brain cancer.

A fund has been established to assist the Shupp family with expenses. The Facebook page is called “please support local family that lost everything due to house fire.” Chapin said there also is a GoFundMe that has raised about $11,000 as of Tuesday afternoon.

Morey, who set up the Facebook page, said firefighters “are still taking clothing.”

Norwalk Reflector Videos