CLEVELAND — Charles Gunn of Cleveland knows how lucky he and his family are this holiday season after they were able to safely escape their burning E. 143 Street home on Dec. 9.
Gunn told News 5 he was on the second floor watching television, and his daughter was on the first floor with her family, when he saw a flash and heard a small explosion or popping sound just outside his window. Gunn explained seconds later he saw flames and smoke, with his next-door neighbor racing into his home to help them out of the house.
“I was in the bedroom watching TV and I saw a flash through the window," Gunn said “I was just trying to figure out if it was for real, Just abruptly like that it was quite a shock to you."
Gunn was also quick to give big thanks to the Cleveland Fire Department and the three-hour effort they made in trying to save his home.
“They put up some effort to get the fire out because it was going big time at one time there and they did a tremendous job," Gunn said. “They were spraying it and I said oh I hope our house doesn’t get going, but they saved it.”
Cleveland fire investigators have still not determined the cause of the blaze, which severely damaged two homes and left the Gunn family homeless.
The American Red Cross Northern Ohio Region responded to the scene to provide assistance and a place to stay for the Gunn family.
Red Cross Disaster Program Manager Tom Revolinsky told News 5 the fire, which filled three city blocks with thick smoke, is another example of the importance of having working smoke detectors in the home.
"There’s four adults, we’re going to get them a place to stay," Revolinsky said. “We”ll give them blankets and comfort kits. Additionally, we’re going to have our case workers follow up with them to help overcome any roadblocks that they may have. That’s the highlight of my day, whenever people are safe and we can come and help them, that makes a rewarding day.”
“If a family needs smoke alarms for their home they can call the America Red Cross or the Cleveland Fire Department and they can install free smoke alarms in their home.
Meanwhile, Gunn is just extremely thankful his family escaped the smoke and flames unharmed.
"Very fortunate, very fortunate, for myself and the family," Gunn said. “Oh yes, I lost a whole lot of things, but I’m not going to cry over spilled milk, I’ll just keep on pushing.”