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Wednesday, June 3rd, 2009

It could have been more than property loss

Fire guts home of Osgood family

By Margie Wuebker

Wet shoes salvaged from the fire-damaged home of Shawn and Missy Tuente, 14701 R. . .

OSGOOD - A blaring radio roused a sleeping family after lightning struck their home and sparked a disastrous fire early Tuesday morning.
Now Shawn and Missy Tuente and their four children, ranging in age from 15 months to 9 years, are left to salvage belongings from the shell of the house at 14701 Reed Road. Osgood Fire Chief Frank Miller lists the damage as extensive and estimates the loss at nearly $200,000.
"We were asleep when the radio in the kids' room began playing full bore," Missy Tuente says. "I ran upstairs to turn it off before the noise woke everyone up."
Turning the dials did nothing so she pulled the plug intending to turn around and head back downstairs to bed. However 4-year-old Kendra, frightened by blaring music, thunder and lightning flashes, needed to get up. They spotted smoke pouring from bathroom vents before smoke detectors sounded shrill warnings.
Missy shouted for her husband and got the children up with orders to put on their shoes and head for a nearby barn.   
"We tried to call 911 but the telephone wouldn't work," Shawn says. "I guess the lightning fried the wires."
The couple found cell phones and placed two calls around 1 a.m. - one to Darke County 911 and the other to his parents Ron and Marlene Tuente to come and get the children.
Minutes seemed like hours, the couple said, as they waited outside on the lawn listening for the sound of sirens as menacing flames breached the roof.
Osgood firefighters responded as did neighboring departments from Chickasaw, Fort Loramie and North Star. Reed Road and the Tuente's driveway quickly became a parking lot for fire trucks. A tanker relay ferried needed water from a nearby pond.
"The fire was in the attic and it achieved pretty good speed until we gained access," Miller said. "The guys did a good job knocking down the flames."
Miller confirmed lightning as the cause, adding the family is fortunate the strike set off the radio. The deafening noise provided an early warning and extra minutes for escape. "They are very lucky," he added looking toward a spindled crib decked with bits of clinging pink insulation.
Flames burned through the rafters and charred the upstairs of the 11/2-story brick home. The fire chief estimated roughly 60 percent of the upstairs ceiling came down either on its own or at the hands of firefighters. Water and smoke also exacted a heavy toll throughout.
Firefighters remained on the scene until approximately 4:30 a.m. leaving behind large tarps spread over gaping holes in the roof, which Shawn refers to as "our new skylights."  
Friends and relatives began carrying out belongings after an insurance adjuster arrived on the scene later Tuesday. Some needed to be dried out like assorted tennis shoes placed on the hood of a parked van. Others like dripping carpet and ruined mattresses were given a quick trip to a waiting dumpster. The smell of smoke enveloped the area but none of the helpers seemed to notice.
"The community support is truly amazing," Missy said clutching a clipboard listing needed items and showing signs of a sleepless night. "We lost things but they can be replaced in time. Fortunately we all escaped; there is no way to replace a life."
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