ARMSTRONG – An Armstrong family is staying in a Rantoul motel after their home and possessions were destroyed by a fire this week.
"It's bad enough to lose everything, but having this happen at Christmas makes it even worse," said Thomas Van Ostrand, whose home burned down on Dec. 23. "What a way to spend Christmas."
Bismarck Fire Chief Doug Hardy said firefighters were called to a blaze at 3349 Gifford Ave. in Armstrong at about 7 a.m. Bismarck firefighters provided mutual aid to the Bluegrass Fire Department, which was first on the scene.
Van Ostrand is a truck driver who was delivering a load of bottled water to Kroger stores in Louisville, Ky., at the time.
His four children were in bed, and his wife, Tara, was doing the laundry.
"Tara was getting ready to go Christmas shopping and was getting some clothes washed. Tara was in the bathroom when she suddenly smelled some smoke coming out of the laundry room," Thomas Van Ostrand said. "When she walked over there, Tara noticed fire coming out from underneath the dryer. So she hollered for the kids to wake up and get out of the house."
Tara Van Ostrand and their children, Tyler, 16; Tayla, 13; Tessa, 9; and Trent, 4, all ran out of the house unhurt. The older boy helped guide the family's four dogs safely out of the home.
"A neighbor and my wife went back to the house to see if they could put the fire out," Thomas Van Ostrand said. "When they opened the front door, flames and smoke were flying out of the door, and the laundry room and kitchen were up in flames."
Hardy said the one-story home appeared to be a total loss. Firefighters left the scene at about 9 a.m.
"Everything is charcoaled," Thomas Van Ostrand said.
He said the dogs are staying at his mother-in-law's home because all the local kennels were at capacity due to the Christmas holidays.