Before the year was up, the Peters family found that 2020 had one more sobering shock in store when they were faced with the horrors of a house fire on the evening of Monday, Dec. 7.
Homeowner Jen Peters – who lives with her husband, Chuck, and her daughter, Jessica – was the only one at the house when the fire started.
“When I heard weird noises coming from the direction of our kitchen and garage, I figured it was just one of our cats playing with something,” Peters said. “I also thought it could be [my husband] Chuck banging things around in there after he had got back from the post office. So, I wasn’t scared until I opened the garage door and saw black smoke coming into our house.”
Immediately, Peters slammed the door shut and attempted to find a fire extinguisher. Unfortunately, the extinguisher that the family usually kept in their kitchen pantry wasn’t there, and their backup was located in the garage, which would soon be engulfed in flames. Peters then promptly called 911 and set off to secure the safety of both herself and her cats, Loki and Griffy.
“Loki was the first one I found at the top of the stairs,” Peters said. “I grabbed him, and then I turned around to look for Griffy and I saw him wiggle under our master bed. I knew then that I probably couldn’t get to him [in time]. I tried to use Herculean strength to lift the bed while holding Loki, but I couldn’t do it.”
Though she made a few more attempts to rescue Griffy, Peters was ultimately unable to do so.
“[When] the fire trucks showed up, I just kept screaming for them to get my cat,” Peters said. “I was never at all worried about my house, because I knew they were taking care of that as best they could. I only wanted to make sure my cat got out.”
Thankfully, when Peters’ husband, Chuck, and a firefighter went to search through the house later on that night, Griffy was spotted behind the family’s Christmas tree.
“When Chuck came out on the front porch holding Griffy, [our neighbors] started cheering,” Peters said. “I absolutely lost it. I was so grateful and happy.”
While no one was harmed by the house fire, much of the home itself was beyond repair.
“The garage was a complete loss, along with the kitchen, master bathroom, and laundry room,” Peters said.
Luckily, many friends and family – namely, Jen’s sister, Lisa – tried to help by offering stable living accommodations while the house was being cleared out and restored.
“I would say my sister stepped up the most out of everyone and really showed her true colors throughout the whole first days of us trying to navigate everything,” Peters said. “She’s my rock.”
Nine days after the fire, the Peters settled into their temporary living space at Lynbrook Townhomes, which Lisa located for the family. They will reside there for about six months.
In the meantime, the family is finding hope in their unbreakable bond with one another.
“To be honest, having Chuck by my side has made this whole ordeal bearable,” Peters said. “And [my daughter] Jessica has been amazing as well. Above all else, their presence has helped [keep me calm].”