LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WAVE) - A Louisville family is still feeling the stress of 2020 after a fire just two days before the new year forced them out of their house last week.
Keith Caudill walked through his home Tuesday afternoon, pointing out water damage, open ceilings, and insulation all over the house.
“Fire started here and worked it’s way straight back,” Caudill said, while standing in front of the front door.
A strong smell of smoke lingered.
Strands of garland from Christmas decorations were still up around the house, with pieces of insulation sitting on them like snow.
Christmas, Caudill said, is his favorite holiday, and one he wants his kids to enjoy, too. As for this Christmas, he said it was good.
“Given that 2020 has affected us, we did everything we could to give the kids the best Christmas,” Caudill said.
On Dec. 30, he, his wife and two kids were having a movie night in the living room.
Around 9 p.m., he walked into a back closet to look for something. He couldn’t find whatever he was looking for, and can’t remember what it was, but said he smelled smoke in the closet.
“It was coming from the attic,” he said. “I ran and grabbed my shoes. I grabbed my ladder and got up there as fast as I could. From that point, I pushed the attic door back and could hear the crackling of fire. I yelled at my wife to get the kids. She did and snagged them all really quick.”
Caudill said he grabbed a fire extinguisher and tried to put it out from the attic, but it didn’t work.
“We got the kids out the back door, because the front door was pretty much engulfed,” he recalled. “(We) couldn’t go out the front.”
They ran to the neighbors’ house for safety, where Caudill said the neighbors helped keep the kids, ages 3 and 13, distracted.
“(Then) I went into the house to get the keys to move the cars in case the fire department needed to get in,” he said. “Then I had to go back in to get my pups. We have three dogs, the biggest being 130 pounds.”
Two of his dogs ran out when he called their names. Caudill had to run inside to grab the third dog who was closer to the fire. Everyone got out of the house safely. He said the smoke detectors did not start going off until the second time he went back in the house.
“It’s very scary because it was all up in flames in about three minutes,” he said.
Caudill and a neighbor attempted to put out the fire at the front door from the outside with fire extinguishers, but it didn’t work. Then, firefighters from Highview Fire, Fern Creek Fire and Okolona Fire arrived at the scene.
“I’ve never seen anything like it before,” he said. “When the fire is still going, (the firefighters) were grabbing pictures, (putting) tarps on couches. They were doing everything they could to salvage what they could. And I want to say thank you so much to every single firefighter who was there. Especially shoutout to Josh; he was the firefighter to grab my parakeet.”
Nearly a week later, the damage inside the home is extensive. Walls in the two front bedrooms are charred, the roof is visible through most of the house, burned rubble is scattered across the children’s rooms. The fire destroyed their Christmas gifts.
“We’ll probably be out of our home eight months to a year,” Caudill estimated.
The support from the community, donating to a GoFundMe page and dropping off other items, has been overwhelming, Caudill said.
“I know this city is just been outpouring with love and care right now,” he said.
Caudill said he was told it was an electrical fire, adding that he plans to add a smoke detector in his attic when they rebuild, and encourages others to do the same. He also said he plans to add carbon monoxide detectors in the home.