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Loss of home sinks in, Ottumwa family grateful to be alive

Shaylyn White, left, and Maryann White hold their surviving dogs, Harley and Baby/KTVO

An Ottumwa family is devastated after losing their home and two pets to a fire early Tuesday morning.

"It's hard when you come home, you come here and then you realize your whole house has been burned down and you literally have nothing and you start thinking about all the things you take for granted," said fire victim, Shaylyn White.

White’s family escaped safely and found refuge at their neighbor's house.

"The bedroom we were actually in is towards the back of the house upstairs, so all we had seen all night were the flashing lights and the burning all night,” White said. “None of us could sleep because it was coming in through the window, so we literally had to fall asleep watching our house burn down."

Family members said they were in such a hurry to get outside, that some of them didn't even have time to put on their shoes.

"I wanted to go back in and try to get my dog Bear and my slippers and Jaime said, ‘no, we don't have time mom, it's burning now, we need to get out of here and get in the car,’ and then she realized that she didn't have the keys to the car, that they had been on the kitchen table," said White’s grandmother, Maryann White.

Two of their four pets didn't make it out; their dog Bear Bear and cat, Bugaboo.

"They were a part of the family too and they're gone now, so that's like the hardest part," White said.

Their two other dogs, Harley and Baby ran out with the rest of the family.

"Even though everything we own was inside that house, we all escaped with our lives," Maryann White said.

While crews worked in harsh temperatures to battle the fire that night, other firefighters went to the store to pick up a few items for the family.

"They stopped and brought eight bags full of coats and socks, underwear, boots, all kinds of stuff," said family-friend and neighbor, Kim Panko.

Panko salvaged a few items from their home Wednesday.

"It's some of the last yard ornaments we're ever going to have from that house," White said.

The Whites are mainly in need of monetary donations, however, the family is currently accepting clothing donations, furniture and appliances at 133 South Van Buren Ave.

Monetary donations can be sent through a GoFundMe account.


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