Thankfully, nobody was injured.
Eric and Maria Livengood enjoyed a big night Saturday watching the St. Paul Flyers defeat South Central 49-6 in a Firelands Conference football game. Their youngest son, Lars Livengood, is a senior standout on the team, while his sister, Emma, is a junior cheerleader who was also on the homecoming court.
But things took a turn for the worse sometime after midnight when a family member smelled smoke. Everybody got out of the house, but before the fire department could get there, flames were shooting through the roof.
Eric Livengood and acting Norwalk Fire Chief Rick Perry were standing out in front of the house Sunday morning assessing the damage, but there wasn’t a whole lot to be said.
“I’m just numb,” Livengood said.
“It doesn’t look bad from the outside,” Perry said. “But there is a lot of damage inside.”
Firefighters estimated there was $150,000 of property and contents damage; they were worth a total of $210,000 before the fire.
Eleven firefighters in four trucks responded to 42 Norwood Ave. at 1:24 a.m. Sunday, four minutes after being dispatched. The report indicates the crew had the blaze under control at 3:02 and was at the scene until 4:59.
Upon arrival, firefighters “found heavy fire conditions coming from the attic and all (the) occupants were out,” Capt. Aaron Lynch wrote in his report. The first crew to arrive opened up the second-floor ceilings to extinguish the fire and soon were assisted by more firefighters.
“A lengthy overhaul ensued to extinguish hot spots and to ensure (the) fire was out,” Lynch wrote.
Perry said he believes the fire started somewhere in the attic. The acting chief also said the daughter “smelled something” in the bedroom and then “alerted her mom.” While much of the blaze was contained to the top of the house, he said the smoke and water damaged most of the bottom half.
“All the ceilings had to be pulled to get to the fire,” Perry added. “We’re not 100 percent sure of the cause. We’ve narrowed it down to a couple things.”
The acting chief said his men and somebody from the state fire marshal’s office will investigate the fire to try to determine a cause.
“They had smoke detectors, but they didn’t alert them,” Perry said.
While the Livengood family got out of the house, they are living elsewhere.
“They are staying with friends of the family,” Perry said. “The family is going to be displaced for quite some time.”
The American Red Cross disaster relief team was at the scene. The Huron River Joint Fire District provided mutual aid at the house while Milan Township firefighters covered the Norwalk station.
Besides Eric and Maria Livengood and their two children, there were two dogs and a cat in the insured house.
“Both dogs are accounted for,” Perry said. “We found the cat alive, buried under (the) bed upstairs (Monday). Lt. (Jeff) Phillips found it during the insurance investigation.”
Livengood said he had a fire going in the fireplace, but hasn’t had any issues in the past.
“I’m just glad everybody got out,” Perry said. “I’m happy for their family and I’m happy my men were all safe. Those are tough fires to fight.”
EDITOR’S NOTE: Reporter Cary Ashby contributed to this story.