HILLIARD, Ohio (WCMH) – Since the beginning of January there has basically been a house fire every day. Close to two dozen in just one month.
One of the most recent fires was in Hilliard, where four people escaped their burning home. Blisters cover Erin Barlay’s hands and her beanie is covering scorched hair. However, looking at what’s left of her home after flames tore through it, she’s grateful it wasn’t worse.
“I have three beautiful children who are still alive and that’s all that matters,” Barlay said.
She said the nightmare began Monday morning when she woke up to smoke detectors blaring.
“It said fire and I heard that three times before I became fully awake and realized something was wrong,” Barlay said.
She said she felt her way through the smoke-filled house and got out, only to realize her three kids were still inside.
“I went back into the house and it was black with smoke and there were five feet flames as high as me on the couch where my son was sleeping,” Barlay said.
She kept going in and out of the house to get fresh air while trying to find her kids.
“When I was in all I could think of is my children are going to die so I’m going to stay here and die with them,” she said.
That’s when she heard her two sons screaming outside. One of them jumped out of the window. Her daughter was standing on the roof.
“And we kept telling her you have to jump and she dove off onto the concrete as all the flames burst out the window behind her,” Barlay said.
Other townhomes nearby were also affected by the fire.
“It’s the worst time of year,” Barlay said.
Since the beginning of the month NBC4 has reported on at least eighteen fires, all at people’s homes.
“It’s very unusual for us to have this many in this short of time period,” Battalion Chief Steve Martin of Columbus City of Fire said.
Battalion Chief Martin said it’s important for families to have a meeting place outside.
“That fire continues to grow and once you’re out it’s going to be a lot worse than when you left,” Battalion Chief Martin said.
He also adds that people should close their bedroom doors at night and make sure their smoke detectors are working. As for Barlay, that’s what she said saved her family’s life.
“They were working and if they weren’t working we would be dead,” Barlay said.
Barlay said she hopes other people will make sure their smoke detectors are working after hearing that it saved her life.