ELYRIA — A beloved four-legged member of a family who lost nearly everything when their apartment was damaged by the fire Monday in downtown Grafton was found unscathed — the only animal in the building to survive.
Taylor Twardzik, her boyfriend, George Holliday, and their two children, Mason and Colson, ages 8 years and 15 months, lived in an apartment above one of the three buildings affected — the Allstate insurance building — with Twardzik’s grandmother, Fran Mangino, for about three years.
After the fire, their 5-year-old cat Nala was missing. They’ve had her since she was a kitten.
They searched for her after the blaze was extinguished, but there was no sign of her.
Later, Patrick Wendling, owner of Mendco Construction Co., was inspecting the Allstate building Monday evening and was looking for Nala while he worked. It was dark — the building’s power off and workers only had portable lights.
Wendling said he had talked with the family earlier when they came by looking for Nala, and he’d warned them she probably
wouldn’t be found alive. He promised to look anyway.
Wendling said at one point, he saw a pile of pillows and blankets in a bedroom. He checked the pile and there was Nala, unscathed and in perfect health.
“I was very surprised and I told them once I found the cat, I told them they need to rename the cat ‘Lucky,’” he said.
Of the four cats in the building, Nala was the only one found alive, hr said. The other three were found dead, most likely from smoke inhalation, he said.
Holliday said Nala was still shaken but was recovering.
“It’s been a few days since it happened and she’s just now feeling comfortable,” he said.
The Allstate building was the only one left standing after a fire broke out Monday morning in the Main Street business housing the defunct 216 Bistro and spread to the Allstate building on one side and Lu’s Pizza on the other. The fire destroyed Lu’s Pizza; the building was demolished Monday evening.
The family lived in one of six apartments above the business.
Since the fire, the family has been staying in hotels and in the home of Mangino’s son in Elyria.
On Thursday, a carload of clothing and toys was delivered to the family by Ohio Highway Patrol Sgt. Pablo Cruz. Cruz, who knows the family, wanted to help in some way, so he put out a call at the Elyria post for donations.
That was the latest donation to the family; others had come from the American Red Cross, Midview and Keystone schools and local chapters of the Boy Scouts. Holliday said that after the donations, his son Colson has more clothing than he did before the fire.
A GoFundMe account has been established for them; as of Thursday, more than $1,000 had been donated.
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