WESTWOOD On Monday morning, grandmother Kim Hieneman was sitting in the front room of her mobile home on Christine Avenue talking on the phone when she heard a sound that will make most people’s blood curdle.

The screech of a fire alarm.

She heard it come from the backroom of the single-wide trailer and saw a haze of smoke coming from the room.

A widow, Hieneman has lived in her home for the last three years with her four grandchildren, ranging in age from 6 months to 11 years of age. When she opened the door, Hieneman said she saw fire.

“I tried to get something to smother it, but it got worse,” she said. “I have my babies sleeping in here. I thought I was going to die.”

So she got the babies out of bed and started ushering them to the door when she saw a flame shoot out the back room. The small children froze up; Hieneman said she had no choice but to usher them along.

That’s when members of the Westwood Volunteer Fire Department and a couple engines from nearby Greenup County raced to the scene to extinguish the flames.

Westwood Chief Brent Webster said it took around 15 minutes to get the blaze knocked down. But Hieneman, who had lived in the house for 10 years, said it felt like it took forever.

“They did a great job and I know they put it out as quick as they could, but it felt like it took forever,” she said.

It wasn’t the actions that morning that saved the family’s life; Hieneman said it was when the department responded to a furnace fire a few days prior. After extinguishing that blaze, Hieneman said the fire department installed smoke detectors.

“Without the grace of them installing those smoke detectors, this could have been a lot worse,” Hieneman said.

Webster said the cause of the fire was ruled to be space heaters, which got too close to something that caught up.

In light of the fire — which caused mainly interior damage — Webster said he would like the public to check their smoke detectors and be careful about using portable heaters.

Hieneman is now living with a co-worker and trying to figure out what she can salvage. However, not everything can be replaced, she said.

“The hardest thing people don’t understand is the memories there,” she said. “My husband laid down the floor in there, he did the walls. It’s all gone. You can’t replace that.”

The Westwood Volunteer Fire Department, located at 2039 Main Street in Westwood (Ashland), is taking up collections for Hieneman and her grandchildren. Donations will be accepted until Friday from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., and include clothes, food and infant materials.

Here's some sizes provided by the fire department:

The 11-year-old boy: 30-by-30 pants, men’s large shirt and size 10.5 shoes

3 year-old girl: 7/8 kids size and size 12 in kids shoes

2-year-old boy: 4/5 kids size and size 7 in kids shoes.

6-month-old boy: 6-9 month baby clothes, diapers, wipes and Similac Alimentum baby formula, as well as any other baby supplies.

Hieneman: 2XL in women's.

Hieneman said she really appreciates the way the community has come out to support her family in this time of need.

“They’ve been amazing, the entire community has done so much to help us and have really come together,” she said.

(606) 326-2653 |

henry@dailyindependent.com

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