The fire victim has lost her husband and home in less than a year.
CANFIELD --The smell of smoke still permeated her neighbor's family room Wednesday afternoon as a 79-year-old Canfield woman sat on the edge of a couch and tried to make sense of her loss.
Heidi Boening's 29-year-old contemporary style home on 3940 Fairway Drive was gutted late Tuesday by a fire just 10 months after the death of her husband, Ulrich. A majority of the things in her life were incinerated in the fire, though she escaped unharmed. Her husband's death and now the fire are taking a toll, she said.
"It's a little bit much at once," she said.
Boening said she was in the kitchen when she noticed something dark coming from the back room. When she entered the rear room, she was met by a plume of black smoke and a wall of fire.
Boening said she didn't have time to grab anything, including her purse or even a coat, as she dashed out the front door and was met by helpful neighbors.
"I feel like a new person, like I don't have any identity," Boening said.
She and her husband moved to the United States from Germany after World War II and built two houses, both in Canfield. The Fairway Drive home was a custom design and something she treasured.
On Wednesday, her sons Richard and Michael arrived from Cleveland and Indianapolis, respectively, to help her sort through what is left of her belongings as she recovered at Dottie Wolfe's house at 3962 Fairway next door.
There wasn't much left.
Boening said she found all of her shoes in fairly good condition, but when she asked her sons about some coats in a hall closet, Michael replied, "There is no hall closet anymore."
Boening's daughter-in-law, Donna Boening, said they were able to salvage some Copenhagen figurines that were made of porcelain. One was covered with a hard layer of soot, but it brought a smile to Boening's face.
Extinguishing the fire
Canfield Fire Chief Robert Tieche said the department is still investigating, but he doesn't suspect foul play. His men worked more than three hours to douse the blaze, and damage to the structure was still being assessed late Wednesday.
Firefighters ran into one problem in fighting the blaze when a fire hydrant was frozen. But the department thawed that hydrant and stopped the fire from spreading beyond the structure. Tieche said the open floor plan of Boening's house made it hard to contain the fire initially.
"It was quite a fire," Tieche said. "The fire had burned entirely on the first floor, so we couldn't do an interior work. ... Damagewise, it's extensive."
Boening said she has been touched by the generosity of some new neighbors across the street who gave her a coat and accompanied her while firefighters fought the fire. Tonight she will stay with Richard's family, she said.
"You're OK," Donna Boening said to her mother-in-law. "Everything else is stuff. Stuff can be replaced."