Friends Rally To Support Maumee Couple Following House Fire

A fundraiser for Sean McCarthy (left) and Christine Gebhart will be held on Wednesday, January 10 to help the couple with costs associated with their house fire on November 27. The fundraiser will be held at Caper’s Restaurant & Bar at 2038 S. Byrne Rd. in Toledo from 4:00 to 8:00 p.m. The event is $25.00 for those 12 and older, $10.00 for those under 12 and free for those under 6. All-you-can-eat pizza and salad is included. MIRROR PHOTO BY KRISTI FISH

BY KRISTI FISH | MIRROR REPORTER — On November 27, Christine Gebhart had been at work for less than an hour when her neighbor called.

The West John Street home where Gebhart and her husband, Sean McCarthy, and their five pets resided, was on fire.

“Our neighbor, Kim, thank God she was sitting in her kitchen. She noticed the smoke and called 9-1-1 and then called me immediately,” Christine said.

When first responders arrived, the neighbor informed the crews that multiple dogs and cats were inside the house.

When Christine arrived from work, she was stopped by the first responders, who had been unable to enter the home yet.

“I came running up with my key and they had to stop me. All of our pets were inside,” Christine said.

Not knowing what else to do, Christine called her veterinarian’s office, just in case a hoped-for survivor would need emergency care.

Maumee animal control officer Ken Streichert arrived on scene, too.

“We’ve known each other for a long time and he’s a big animal guy. He was so great,” Christine said. “He and everyone else handled it very carefully so I wouldn’t have to see anything.”

When crews were able to make it inside, they retrieved the bodies of all five animals, taking them outside for Christine and her husband, Sean.

The five beloved pets, Herbie, Lulu, Hobbes, L.L. and Hammy, had died in the fire.

While fire crews from Maumee, Waterville, Perrysburg and Toledo along with police handled the scene, the Gebhart-McCarthy household was also helped by their many neighbors.

“I can’t even tell you everybody’s names. I was in shock, but there were just so many familiar faces that just kept coming out to check on us,” Christine said. “Without them it would have been a lonely experience.”

Neighbors brought blankets and other items to help keep the family warm and offered up their homes to wait in after the fire until they could figure out where to go.

The two have also been supported by family for what will be a long process following the fire.

A GoFundMe campaign was created by Christine’s cousin, Jen Pyle, to help with the additional expenses associated with the fire.

Sean’s sister, Shannon, and the Toledo Sailing Club organized a fundraiser for Wednesday, January 10 from 4:00 p.m. to 8:00 p.m. at Caper’s Restaurant & Bar at 2038 S. Byrne Rd. in Toledo.

The fundraiser is $25.00 per person 12 and over, $10.00 for kids under 12 and free for those 6 and under and includes all-you-can-eat pizza and salad.

A 50/50 and silent raffle will also be held during the event.

“Our family and friends have been so helpful through all of this,” Christine said.

There are costs that insurance will not be able to cover, as it will take many months, potentially a year, before the home is restored and the two can move back in.

There were many material items in the home that also cannot be replaced, including important mem-entos from Christine’s son, Nick Gebhart.

“My son was raised in the house. Hobbes was his kitty. He might not live there now, but it was his home and a lot of his belongings are still there,” Christine said. “It’s just been so hard for all of us.”

In order to move forward and restore the home, Christine and Sean have been sifting through their belongings with the help of BluSky Restoration Contractors.

They have removed items they wanted to try to save and have separated out items that cannot be restored.

“Everything was pretty much blown out of its place,” Christine said about the items on the first floor. “When I looked across the living room, (a canvas of) Jesus was just untouched. It hadn’t been moved. It gave me a little bit of hope.”

For now, Christine and Sean, along with Nick, have the support of the community while they wait for their belongings to be restored and the home to be fixed.

Much of the home will have to be taken down to the studs and replaced, Christine added.

The couple hopes no one in the community will ever have to go through what they have endured and they’ve offered some advice in hopes of preventing that.

“I have always been the type to unplug my appliances, but this was an electrical fire from a faulty appliance,” Christine warned.

She advised everyone to keep track of the serial numbers on their appliances and periodically search for issues with those devices and make sure they are registered, whenever possible.

“We are devastated by everything that happened, but we are so grateful for our friends, family and community,” she added.

For now, the couple is residing in an apartment while their home is restored, along with their small puppy, gifted by Christine’s dad, Jim Gebhart.

“He’s made me smile, which has been much-needed,” Christine said. “We’re just so grateful for the support from everyone. The main thing we want to do is thank this community, fire, police and animal control for their help.”

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