Blaze displaces Franklin family

A Franklin man was planning to finish Christmas shopping this weekend, but now he’s trying to figure out where his family will stay after a fire forced them out of their home.

Brian Minner’s fiancee shook him awake at 3 a.m., telling him that a fire was burning in the utility room just below the bedroom. Stephanie Harrison works nights and was home on a break when she smelled smoke. She looked around and found the fire burning in the room with the furnace and their washer and dryer. Minner and his fiancee’s two boys, ages 7 and 8, were all asleep when the fire started.

Minner, Harrison and the two boys ran outside onto Lochry Road and watched as smoke poured out of their rental home. Franklin firefighters, who were just across the yard at the nearby fire station on Main Street, were able to douse the fire within about 15 minutes. But even that short time was enough to cause extensive heat and smoke damage to the interior of the home, fire department spokesman Brad Epperson said.

Minner and his family can’t return home for the holidays, and it will likely be a month before they could return if repairs are made, he said. They’ve lived in the house about five years.

For now, they’re staying with family in the Center Grove area, he said.

“We intended on doing all of our Christmas shopping this weekend or the remaining of it. I don’t know how losing our home is going to affect that. You would love it to be a priority, but having a roof over your family comes first,” Minner said.

Franklin firefighters spent about 90 minutes putting out the fire and making sure it hadn’t spread, Epperson said. Firefighters are still investigating what sparked the fire, but the furnace seems to be a likely culprit, Epperson said. The exterior of the house isn’t badly damaged except for a scorch mark above the front door and smoke-blackened windows. The burned-up washer and dryer are sitting in the backyard next to roller blades, bicycles and other toys.

Flames were burning fiercely in the utility room by the time firefighters arrived, and there is heavy heat damage in the kitchen and smoke damage throughout the house, Epperson said.

The family’s clothes are likely ruined and they’re still sorting through their other items, Minner said.

The kids haven’t been too shaken up by the fire and are thankful they made it out without getting hurt, Minner said. But the boys are too young to realize how much they might have lost in the fire, he said.

The fire could have been worse, and Minner is thankful for the quick response and help they’ve received from the city’s police and firefighters. Now he’s trying to figure out the next steps after the fire to find a place to live, replace lost items and make sure the boys have a happy holiday, Minner said.

“It’s definitely an eye-opener. You kind of don’t expect it. The only things you think about are your family and getting out the house,” Minner said.