VERMILION — It’s been nearly a week since Chris Brink and his family lost just about everything they owned in a fire that began in the kitchen of the two-story house they had rented for eight years.
“In the hotel room the other night I still couldn’t get that smell of smoke out of my nose,” Brink said, shaking his head in disbelief.
They family also can’t get over the kindness and generosity of friends and strangers who have been filling the garage of a family friend with clothes, food and household items.
“People have just been unbelievable,” Chrissy Brink said of the response from Vermilion residents.
“This is a small town, and we love it here,” she said. “People know who you are.”
Chris and his wife, Chrissy, talked about the fire as they stood outside the South Street house as their kids, daughter, Cadence, 10, and Chris Jr., 8, played nearby.
Vermilion firefighters responded within a few minutes of the fire about
8 p.m. Sunday.
They had the fire under control in short order but not before flames and smoke had claimed most of the contents, although the house itself remains standing.
Chris and Chrissy Brink are all but convinced the fire began in or near a brand-new air conditioning unit they purchased two weeks ago.
The fire quickly spread from the rear kitchen to the front of the house before it began to make its way upstairs after a deep fryer exploded from the heat, according to the couple.
“Our daughter’s room is downstairs,” Chrissy Brink, 35, said as she pointed to a boarded-up ground-floor window at the front of the house.
“We were so glad that they got here so fast and we got everyone out,” Chrissy Brink said.
The family also managed to save a pet bird, and two pet dogs including Benny, a
2-year-old bulldog mix, but not much else.
“He’s wearing girls’ sweatpants,” Chrissy said, pointing to her husband’s attire.
The family remains unsettled about their future. The rented house wasn’t insured, and both parents are on disability.
Chrissy requires about 15 medications for diabetes and rheumatoid arthritis. Chris is a Marine veteran who sustained leg injuries in a car accident while in the military.
“That was in the late 1990s, and I planned to be a lifer, going for 20 years at least,” Chris said, but the leg injury forced him from the service. “I worked as a butcher until my leg just couldn’t take it anymore.”
“We live paycheck-to-paycheck, like a lot of people,” Chrissy said.
The family was to depart their hotel today because it was booked for the weekend.
Anxious about where they were going to go, their worries now appear to be over, as a home on a nearby street will apparently become available thanks to a resident who is moving out and offered the home to the family on a short-term basis.
Contributions to help the family may be made to a fund set up in the family’s name at area FirstMerit bank branches.
Contact Steve Fogarty at 329-7146