CLAY COUNTY, Fla. — As 86-year-old Virginia Steinke sat down to eat with her two sons on Christmas Day, she noticed her cat scratching on the door to her garage. She never thought it would be the first alarm to a dangerous situation.
"My son Roger got up and opened the door into the garage from the house. The flame just came right back at us like that," Steinke remembered.
The cause of the fire was an extension cord malfunction. The great grandmother, her two sons, cat and dog all safely escaped the burning home.
“It got every room," Vicki Corley, Steinke’s daughter, said. "All the ceilings collapsed."
Clay County Fire Rescue responded quickly, she added, but the house and everything in it was a total loss.
“I was scared," Steinke explained. "It was very difficult.”
Plus, this is not the only hardship she has had to battle this year.
Steinke almost lost her life to COVID-19 in September after fighting the virus in a hospital bed for three weeks.
“Today, we just got back from the pulmonary doctor," Corley said. "She gets to get off her oxygen. And her lungs still have some scarring, but they're much better."
So, just like it will take time for Steinke’s lungs to heal, it is going to take some time to tear down and rebuild their home. Meanwhile, Steinke and her son will be staying with family.
The family’s focus right now is to replace some of necessities Steinke lost, such as clothes, hearing aids and life alert.
A GoFundMe page has been set up for those who want to help the great grandmother.