SOUTHINGTON — A 13-year old getting up for a late-night snack alerted her family that the house was on fire.
The family got out OK, but the Sunday night fire destroyed all their belongings and killed their cat.
Beth Kostenko and her four daughters are now staying with her stepmother, Rebecca Fede, who lives next door.
“They got out with just their pajamas,” Fede said. “It’s a total loss. They need everything.”
Stephanie Kostenko noticed the fire in the front of the 1872 farmhouse around 10 p.m. on Sunday night. Firefighters battled the blaze for about an hour, according to Fire Chief Richard Butler.
Area residents have already started efforts to donate clothing and more to the family.
“The show of support has been amazing from the community,” Fede said. “They need everything: prayer, hugs, support, love.”
She credited Stephanie Kostenko with saving the family and the family dog, who made it out of the house.
“She was definitely the hero,” Fede said.
Butler said police arrived first, and it took some time for firefighters because the residence was located “at the very far end of town,” near the Cheshire border. The fire was well underway by the time firefighters arrived.
Butler said the structure of the building, which he described as a farmhouse with tongue and groove wooden ceilings, made firefighting more difficult. Crews used chainsaws to get at the hottest spots.
Officials hadn't determined yet exactly where the fire started.
“We believe it was somewhere towards the front of the building,” Butler said.
Staff from the Connecticut Red Cross and Southington Community Services are working with the family on temporary housing, according to Butler.
Fede said the town calls her road Johnson Avenue while utility companies call it East Johnson. It’s the border of Southington and Cheshire and is also close to the Meriden line.
Fede wasn’t sure how long it took firefighters to arrive.
“When you’re waiting like that and you see flames coming out, it feels like an hour,” she said.
Fede owns the house at 960 Johnson Avenue and lives next door. Both properties are part of her parents’ family farm. The Kostenko’s house is on more than 32 acres and separated from neighbors.
With an extra five people, Fede said her house is crowded but that the family was making do. She’s working with her insurance company and trying to get her relatives back on their feet.
“I want to give my kids the best foot forward I can,” Fede said.