Family loses home to fire in South Shore, Ky.

Published: Oct. 31, 2017 at 6:38 PM EDT
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A family from Greenup County, Kentucky, is dealing with an unexpected tragedy. The Sturgill family -- a mom, dad and four kids -- lost their home to a fire Monday night.

It happened on Joshua Lane in South Shore after 11 p.m.

After going back to the scene Tuesday, firefighters believe it may have started as an electrical fire in the kitchen then spread to a nearby kerosene can.

"Little things to us mean a million to a lot of people," said Greenup County Deputy Sheriff and Lloyd Volunteer Firefighter Rick Craft. "We want to try to save everything that we can save."

Not for a lack of trying, the home was a total loss.

"This time of year is terrible because people are surviving heating with kerosene and they've got too many heaters on one receptacle," Craft said. "It's that time of year. We know it's coming."

He says the number of fires they respond to doubles in the winter months.

The family of six and their pets all make it out safely. Craft even gave one of the daughters the sweatshirt off his back because of how cold it was.

"That's what we do," Craft said. "That's what we're here for. Give the shirt off your back to anybody, that's why we're here. I did it before and I'd do it again."

Natalee West, a neighbor who lives across the street, says the Sturgills are practically family. Her son as a child with one of their daughters. It was difficult for West to watch the home go up in flames.

"It broke my heart," West said. "To watch somebody lose everything they got is devastating."

She recalls the fellow mother rush to her door late Monday night.

"She's banging on the door," West said. "I open it. She's just in panic mode, 'My house is on fire.' I grab fire extinguishers and stuff thinking it's a little fire. I go, 'Where?' She goes, 'The kitchen. It was just little.' By the time I got to the end of my yard with the fire extinguisher, it was a big kaboom."

That sound is what investigators believe was the kerosene can.

The father tells WSAZ the home was almost paid off.

"After seeing all the work she's (the mother) put into it and everything, you could see it just devastated her," West said. "I was waiting for her to collapse. I couldn't believe she was still standing. The father, he wasn't even here when the fire started. They're calling him to hurry up and come home. The house is on fire. The expression on his face when he pulled up and got out of that truck and seen flames -- it was devastating to him."

In this time of need, the Red Cross is providing the family with a place to sleep. They are not sure what they are going to do long term.

If anyone would like to help, the father tells WSAZ what they are mostly in need of is clothes for the children: A 15-year-old boy, 17-year-old boy, 15-year-old girl and 16-year-old girl.

Craft offered these safety tips for the winter months:

-Do not keep kerosene cans inside the house.

-Keep the area around a space heater clear.

-Do not plug heaters into extension cords.

-Change your smoke alarm batteries when we "fall back" for Daylight Saving Time this weekend.

-Clean out your chimney.