Real Families' Stories
"We Lost Everything"
A kitchen fire destroyed Danielle McManus's home in Suitland, Maryland, just two months after she'd moved in with her 6-year-old son, Eric, and her fiance, Curtis Rice. Eric was at his grandmother's when McManus came home from work and started making fried chicken for dinner. She decided to take a quick trip to the grocery store, but she got distracted and left one of the stove burners on. When she came home, her street was full of smoke and firefighters had just put out the flames. "Eric was so upset. He really liked the house and was afraid we'd have to move again," says McManus. The Red Cross helped with lodging and necessities until the family's insurance kicked in and they could start rebuilding.
"The Kids Were Prepared"
When the smoke detectors sounded at the Bouchard house, in Milford, New Hampshire, Kiersten, 7, and Lauryn, 16, were home alone. At the sound of the alarm, they ran across the street barefoot in the snow to call 911 from a neighbor's house; they were forced to leave their cat behind when she wouldn't come. "They didn't even stop to put on their shoes," says Captain Jason Smedick, of the Milford Fire Department, who teaches the fire-safety program at the girls' school. Firefighters rescued the cat and put out the basement fire, which was probably caused by a broken pilot light on the hot-water heater that ignited boxes of clothing and photos.
Originally published in the December 2008 issue of Parents magazine.