WOODSTOCK – Ron Boss woke up early Thursday morning to his house fully engulfed in flames.
Boss stepped out of his bedroom, looked to the kitchen and saw that smoke had filled the entire room. The smoke was so dense he could barely see in front of him. Boss dropped to his knees and hurried into the kitchen to grab his phone. He stood up to exit the house, but he ran directly into a door that knocked him to the ground.
He looked up and saw his entire ceiling on fire.
Boss got out of the house but quickly realized his 2-year-old pit bull, Gucci, who normally is always by his side, was nowhere to be found.
“I could hear him in there crying,” Boss said. “I tried to open the back door but flames were shooting out. I was calling him and he wouldn’t come out. I tried to break a window to get him out but the flames kept shooting out.”
The next time Boss saw Gucci was when firefighters brought him the remains hours later.
Boss’ home, located at 16706 Garden Valley Road in Woodstock, was left uninhabitable after the fire, which started around 12:30 a.m. Thursday, according to fire officials. It took firefighters from 15 departments more than three hours to extinguish the flames, and crews stayed as late at 7 a.m. battling hot spots and clearing the scene.
A cat was also killed in the blaze.
The house and the contents inside were valued at around $200,000, said Boss, but it’s the pictures, memories and, of course, the pets that mean the most.
“Years of memories are lost,” he said. “You can’t put a price tag on a family pet. Those things are priceless.”
While tragic, Boss acknowledged the fire could have been much worse. His two daughters, ages 7 and 8, were picked up by their mother earlier that night. Boss’ 27-year-old son had gone out earlier in the evening and hadn’t returned home.
“People say what a blessing it was,” Boss said. “I was talking to my family about what else I could have done to save my pets. If I jumped through the window I would have probably perished with them.
“There are so many good things that came from a real bad thing. It’s still just overwhelming.”
Boss doesn’t know for certain what caused the blaze. A wood-burning stove and three space heaters were working to heat the house Wednesday night. Boss also suspected that faulty wiring could have sparked the fire. The Woodstock Fire Department is investigating the blaze, according to Deputy Fire Chief Terry Menzel.
Boss, who is currently living with his mother and sister in Delavan, Wis., said he’ll rely on continued support from his friends and family to get him through Christmas this year without his home.
“That’s helping me survive right now,” Boss said. “Knowing that there are so many people in the world that want to help. Even complete strangers … They bring such warmth and care.”