This past Sunday, a tragic fire took place at a home in Columbus, OH. According to The Columbus Dispatch newspaper, Tim Templin and his wife, Sandi, are next-door neighbors to Misty Hodge and Jamie Gillespie. The Templins had long worried about the safety of Hodge and Gillespie and their two children, all of whom lived in the run-down house next to theirs. Unfortunately, their worries came true when a toddler died in a fire there early yesterday, and the little boy’s sister nearly died too.
The poorly kept rental property wasn’t the primary cause of the fire that killed 2-year-old Josh Gillespie and left his 4-year-old sister, Abigail Hodge, clinging to life in Nationwide Children’s Hospital in Columbus. But the blaze, which started in a trash can on the front porch and was most likely caused by a smoldering cigarette, was fueled by the terrible condition of the house. Even worse, the home had no smoke detectors.
When firefighters arrived at 5:08 a.m., the home was engulfed and the two kids’ parents were outside, injured and hysterical. Hodge and Gillespie were awakened by the smell of smoke and went looking for the source. While they were outside investigating, the fire grew worse, spreading so quickly that Gillespie went back into the house but couldn’t get to the kids upstairs.
Gillespie, 26, was burned and was in critical condition with third-degree burns and smoke inhalation. Hodge, 23, was treated for minor burns on her arms and face.
When the Templins came out of their house, they saw Gillespie in his backyard, pointing to the upstairs. The front of the house, where the staircase leads to the bedrooms, was already engulfed. Firefighters later found both children on the second floor of the home. “There just wasn’t any chance,” Templin said. “Everything was on fire, and it went so, so fast. There’s no way anyone could have gotten back in.”
Sandi Templin said she and other neighbors have long worried about everyone’s safety in the rental home because it was in such bad shape. Records show the property has a record dating back at least two years in Environmental Court. Several neighbors had complained to officials over the past few years about rats, bugs, garbage, standing water, high grass and generally unsafe living conditions at the home.
A day after the fire, a woman who said she was Jamie Gillespie’s sister was digging through a mound of soaked and ruined belongings piled in the front yard. She said her brother works for a glass manufacturer and has been trying his best to make ends meet and provide for his family. Then she gestured to the house, to the melted toy wagon, the singed red tricycle and the pile of burned toys. “That’s everything. They lost everything,” she said. “They can never rebuild their lives because my nephew is gone.”
To make sure something like this does not happen in your neighborhood, you should look out for fire hazards not only in your house but also around the homes of others around you. And if one of your neighbors does not take the proper precautions to fireproof their house and yard, then you should consider calling the local fire department to alert them to the dangerous situation.