CAMBY, Ind.-- Jason Baker says he was at his job at The Pool Shop in Plainfield Monday when he saw something on Facebook about a house fire in Camby.
He watched the video circulating on social media, then made a gut-wrenching realization.
“And the more I looked at it and saw the tree lines, I knew it was my house,” Baker said.
By the time Baker got to his house, the fire and several explosions had done their damage. Even as firefighters worked to extinguish the flames, Baker knew he and his family had lost everything they own.
“Everything we worked for for the past 15 years,” Baker said. “Everything, everything is gone.”
First responders were able to recover a few keepsake items from the house. It was about enough to fill a single tote. Other than that, all of the Baker family’s material possessions were gone, and renter's insurance can only do so much.
“You look in there and you’ll see Christmas ornaments from the kids that we’ll never get back,” Baker said.
Also lost in the fire were the family’s beloved 7 and 9-year old dogs, Lilly-Pig and Bear.
“They were amazing animals,” Baker said. “They helped raise the kids.”
Immediately after the fire, Baker says he “lost it.” He, along with his wife Krystal and their two boys, 9-year old Jayden and 12-year old Jace, had just moved in two months earlier. Baker said it was the first real house the family had lived in.
Baker says it didn’t take long for the situation to take a different turn. All of a sudden, people he knew and strangers he’d never met were reaching out to offer help. People were asking what the Bakers needed most and how they could get it to them. Baker says he realized he and his family were being surrounded by a community determined to pick them back up.
“It’s as mind-blowing as anything right now just to see the good in the world that you don’t really see until something as devastating as this happens,” Baker said.
Then, something happened that made Baker’s 9-year old son smile for the first time since the fire.
Baker says his son had just celebrated his birthday on Saturday, and had picked out a brand new bike as a gift. That new bike was destroyed in the fire. A couple days after the fire, one of Baker’s good friends sent him a photo of an extra bike his family had.
“And it was the same exact bike that he had picked out,” Baker said. “Jaden saw that bike and that’s the first time he truly smiled.”
Despite the devastating loss the Baker family has endured, Jason says he is thankful for several things.
“I just want to thank the first responders and everyone that was here to help with the situation,” he said. “And firefighters on their knees going through pictures.
“I want to thank the people that I don’t know personally. Thank you so much for all the assistance and clothing and everything else.”
Baker is also thankful the explosion happened while he and his family were not home. He says the excavating crew suspected of causing the explosion was scheduled to bury a Comcast cable line in his yard on Saturday.
The crew never came Saturday, and arrived unannounced on Monday.
Saturday was the day of his son’s birthday party.
“If it was Saturday, I would have had eight children in the house, my family,” he said. “So for some reason, it didn’t happen Saturday and I’m so thankful.”
Even as Baker thanks the community for their support, the family is still in great need. A GoFundMe page has been set up to collect monetary donations. Items like clothing for the boys and household items are being collected at The Pool Shop in Plainfield, where Jason works.
Jason also plays bass guitar in two different bands, The Wrong Side of Dixie and Flatline Theory. He says he’s getting great support from people in the local music scene.
“I want to thank you, all of you that I don’t know,” he said. “I would love to shake your hand personally and wrap my arms around you. We are recovering, and we will make it. And that’s all thanks to you guys. Thank you so much.”