DANVERS - A fire destroyed a house Friday morning in Danvers, leaving a family with nothing but the clothes they were wearing and a few of their 9-month-old son's toys that weren't melted in the blaze, fire officials said.
Tim and Jenny Huggins stood in front of the charred remains of their home Friday, saying they were just thankful no one was injured. Tim Huggins said he grabbed his son, Aiden, and escaped after smoke began billowing into the house from the garage.
"It scared me. My son was in the living room playing with some toys when I heard this popping sound coming from the garage," Huggins said. "When I opened the garage door from the kitchen, there was nothing but smoke and heat.
"I'm still in shock," he said. "I can't believe our house is gone."
What caused the fire is under investigation by the state fire marshal's office, said Glenn Rosecrans, assistant chief of the Danvers Fire Department. Huggins said some firefighters speculated the source may have been electrical.
Fire spread quickly
More than 40 firefighters from five different agencies responded to the 10 a.m. blaze at 301 W. Exchange St. But by the time they arrived, the flames had already spread from the garage through the rest of the house, Rosecrans said.
"The garage was fully involved and the wind was blowing it toward the house. The wind really worked against us," Rosecrans said, adding that firefighters from Stanford, Congerville, Carlock and Dale Township helped put out the fire.
Although Tim and Jenny Huggins were thankful no one was hurt, they lost nearly all their possessions. Without renter's insurance, their clothing, furniture, electronics and appliances all will have to be replaced.
Tim Huggins said the family's Christmas presents also were burned.
"It was just material stuff. Nobody was injured, so we're happy," Tim Huggins said.
Offers of help
Some in the community already have donated an undisclosed amount of money to the couple, and their landlord has promised they can move into a property he owns in Normal within days. Until then, they'll stay with family, Tim Huggins said.
Ernst Reisinger, Jenny Huggins' father, said he's amazed how quickly the people of Danvers offered aid.
"People we've never met before walked up to (the couple) and handed them money while they watched the fire burn from the street," Reisinger said.
"This is my Christmas," Reisinger said. "I don't need anything else. We got these kids out. My grandson is all right. The rest is stuff that can be replaced. It really puts things in a whole new perspective."