This past Saturday evening began much the same for Janice Ritchie and her family as it did for most people in Meade County—relaxing in the heated comforts of their home after a long cold week of snow and freezing temperatures. That was tragically all about to change. Around nine o’clock that evening, she says her husband, Jonathan, had gone to bed, but the rest of the family was still up.
“My son went to the bathroom and saw an orange glow in the wall,” explained Ritchie. “He goes outside and comes in and shakes me and said ‘Mom, the gutter’s on fire; the gutter’s on fire!’”
She called 911 and said that the Payneville Fire Department quickly responded to the scene. Unfortunately, no matter how fast a fire department responds, the fire has the head start, allowing it ample time to spread.
Ritchie’s Payneville home across from Webb’s Butcher Block doesn’t look that bad, driving past on the road. The outside damage is mainly on the back of the house where the fire started, but the inside is where most of the damage occurred Ritchie says.
The kitchen, bathroom and her oldest two children’s bedrooms, Ben (19) and Allie (17), were completely destroyed. They were able to salvage some of the younger two children, Jonathan (10) and Abigail (18 months), things that were in the front of the house, but as with most fires, what the fire doesn’t destroy; smoke and water often do.
“The oldest two lost pretty much everything they had,” said Ritchie.
Everyone made it safely out of the home that night, but along with belongings, many irreplaceable possessions and memories were destroyed in the blaze.
“My son, he had a picture hanging on the wall he got for Christmas of him and his girlfriend,” Ritchie said of one of the many things that was lost in the fire that just can’t be replaced. “It’s destroyed.”
The family is currently staying in a hotel and storing some of the clothes donations they have received in Ritchie’s parents garage while the family tries to find a way forward after this tragedy. She says she looks forward to the days getting longer so they will have more time to get it all cleaned up and hopefully be able to build back.
“The community right now, they are pulling together for us,” Ritchie says. “We greatly appreciate it. Every little bit helps. It’s been overwhelming so far.
For those wanting to help this family out during their time of need, there are several options. A gofundme page has been set up where monetary donations can be made under: House fire help for the BarrRitchie Family. For those using PayPal, donations can be sent to: email@example.com. Webb’s Butcher Block is also accepting any and all forms of monetary donations, clothing items and personal hygiene items during business hours between 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.