Thursday, March 24th, 2011
By Amy Kronenberger
Neighbor alerts couple of fire
  BURKETTSVILLE - Linda Thieman has dedicated much of her life to helping others, but Wednesday night it was she and her husband who received assistance that likely saved their lives.
Thieman and her husband were awoken Wednesday night by a neighbor, Sarah Lefeld, who saw the attic of their home engulfed in flames.
Dan and Linda Thieman, 4784 Fort Recovery-Minster Road, lost everything to fire, but no one was injured thanks to Lefeld, who was driving to work when she saw flames coming from the roof. She called 911 at 11:50 p.m.
"She broke into the house screaming to get us out," Linda Thieman said this morning.
Burkettsville Fire Department responded to the call, along with assistance from St. Henry, Southwest Mercer, Chickasaw, Coldwater, North Star and Rossburg fire departments.
Burkettsville fire chief Doug Siefring said they got the fire, which started in the attic, under control after an hour and a half. Firefighters remained on the scene this morning.
Investigation into the fire is under way, and the cause has not yet been identified. Thieman said she thinks the cause may have been a lightning strike.
"There's nothing left to do now but wait and see what the inspectors find," Thieman said. "The fire investigators and insurance people are there now, but we lost everything."
The fire department called the Red Cross for assistance with food and shelter. The Thiemans are staying with family.
"Our kids were here right away to help us, and lots of other people came to help too," Thieman said. "The Red Cross was there. We had all the help we could've possibly had."
The Red Cross will keep in touch with the couple in case they need further assistance, said Deb Hemmelgarn, executive director of the Mercer County Red Cross.
"Linda is one of our disaster volunteers, and she was on call at the time," Hemmelgarn said. "I live close by, so I came when the request came from the fire department."
Thieman is a very active member in the community. She's a longtime youth group leader, Spirit Award winner from the Sisters of the Notre Dame de Namur and has served several offices of the Cincinnati Archdiocese. She's been a religion teacher and member of her church's mission commission as well as a paramedic for more than 25 years.
Her friends say Thieman's heart always leads her back to countries like Haiti, where she and her brother, Ben Huelskamp of Maria Stein, continue to provide aid to those less fortunate.
St. Henry Catholic Church is accepting monetary donations to help the Thieman family. Anyone interested in helping can stop by the church or call 419-678-4118.
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