ALBANY, Ind. – A family of seven lost nearly everything when their home caught on fire. Firefighters believe the fire started in the living room with the Christmas tree.
“It’s been very emotional, it really has. It’s been rough, really tough,” said Mandie Youngdale, who escaped house fire.
Monday afternoon, 22-year-old Youngdale and her 6-year-old brother were the only ones home when the fire started. The two escaped by climbing out a window.
“By the time I got back out our Christmas tree was ablaze and the house was quickly consuming with smoke,” said Youngdale.
Once firefighters arrived the fire had already consumed the Albany home.
“Any kind of dry Christmas tree once it lights on fire, you’re not going to put it out. Any sap in there acts as a fuel, the pine needles act as a fuel. It will light a room up in seconds,” said Tim Baty, Hamilton Township Fire Chief.
A little more than 24 hours later, firefighters were called back out to the home to check on hot spots. Baty is warning everyone real trees and fake trees are both fire risks.
“It’s believed they’ve kept this tree for over a month potentially. Christmas tree lights were on all day long, pretty much nonstop,” said Baty.
The family’s three dogs and cat didn’t make it out of the fire. The Youngdale’s are a foster family and have children ages 22 to 2-years-old who call the place home. They were able to salvage some photo albums that were full of family memories.
“Things are things and they can be replaced and family cannot,” said Youngdale.
Youngdale told us this fire has forced Christmas traditions to change.
“I will never have a live Christmas tree again because I never want to go through this again,” said Youngdale.
Even though the holidays will be a little tougher this year, the Youngdale family knows together they will get through it.
The community has set up a GoFundMe account for the Youngdale family.
Also, all four fire departments that responded to the fire--Hamilton Township, Town of Easton, Liberty Township, and Albany Fire Department-- are collecting toys for the children.