Family, friends rally around fire victim

A Buckland woman injured when her house caught fire early Tuesday morning is expected to be released from the hospital for Christmas.
Becky Krites, 45, won’t be able to return to the house she has called home for more than 15 years since the two-story home at 101 High St. was destroyed by the blaze, along with everything inside, including her dog, Nikka, who perished in the fire.
Krites suffered most of her injuries trying to save the golden retriever.
She was transferred from St. Rita’s Medical Center in Lima to the Ohio State University Medical Center’s burn unit in Columbus after the blaze, which was reported to the Buckland Volunteer Fire Department a little after 1:30 a.m. Tuesday.
Krites suffered second- and third-degree burns to her back, arms, hands and the bottoms of her feet. Some of the burns extend down to the tendon and most of her hair is gone, family members said.
“She lost everything and she needs everything,” said JoEllen Brown, one of Krites’ friends, who are organizing efforts to collect donations for her upon her release from the hospital. “She is doing remarkably well.
“Her spirit is great,” Brown said of Krites, who has a grown son who had recently moved out of the house.
Friends and family mentioned Krites, a former Buckland Village Council member, suffered most of her injuries going back into the burning house to try and save, Nikka, who wouldn’t follow her out of the house. They said she is very upset about the loss.
“Her main thought when she has been awake is about her dog,” her sister-in-law Renee Krites said. “She tried hard to get him out.”
They also credit her fiance, who didn’t live at the home, but had fallen asleep on the couch downstairs that night with waking her up and getting her out of the house. Most believe if he hadn’t been there that night, she wouldn’t have gotten out.
“It was totally a miracle,” Brown said.
Family members and authorities investigating the fire have declined to release the name of the fiance, who was not injured.
Plans have been made for Krites to stay with her mother upon her release from the hospital, but as she works to get back on her own again she will need a long list of household items. Also suggested are gasoline cards to assist Krites in getting to physical therapy.
“Becky is the most giving, caring person,” Brown said. “She would give the shirt off her back to help someone.
“We know times are tough, but we are hoping people will help,” Brown said. “She’ll be coming home to nothing.”
As the friends plan a trip to visit Krites before she is released, Brown said they consider her their Christmas miracle.
Buckland Fire Chief Todd Vorhees told the Wapakoneta Daily News on Wednesday that he did not know when an investigation, conducted in conjunction with the Ohio State Fire Marshall’s Office and the Auglaize County Sheriff’s Office, would be complete.
“It usually takes some time with the state involved,” Vorhees said.
He said the origin of the fire has been narrowed down to the front room of the house in an area near the wall heater, although that has not yet been determined as the cause and nothing has indicated anything suspicious about the fire.
Approximately 50 firefighters from six different departments were called in to help fight the blaze, which had engulfed the house by the time the first firefighters arrived at the scene.
The residence owned by Hannah Krites was insured for $68,000.
Renee Krites said its a hard time of year to deal with loss like this, but it could have been so much worse.
“She is going to be OK,” Renee Krites said. “I’m happy things turned out the way they did. It’s only the house that’s lost and she’s still here. Possessions can be replaced.
“It will take some healing, but at least she’s with us and we’re grateful for that,” she said.
On behalf of the family, Krites’ sister-in-law thanked everyone for their kind thoughts and prayers.
“We’ve gotten so many messages and she needs all the help she can get,” Renee Krites said.