A mother and seven of her children were left with only the pajamas they were wearing when their Shirley home was destroyed in a pre-dawn fire Friday.
“Fire! Fire! Get up!” Kimberly Cetin shouted from the downstairs hallway as she helped two of her children escape the flames.
Two of her sons, 11 and 13, jumped out their second-floor bedroom window onto a concrete patio. Her eldest daughter, 17, lowered two siblings out another window and managed to jump as the fire closed in.
“I had 2 1⁄2 minutes to get my kids out,” said Cetin, 39, who was giving her 2-year-old son a shower when she smelled smoke. “After I got my kids out, there were 10-foot flames in the whole entire house out the windows.”
“I can’t believe in one day what happened. We lost everything,” the mother said.
Suffolk police said they got 911 calls shortly after 6:20 a.m. about the fire on Schenk Drive.
The family was taken to Brookhaven Memorial Hospital Medical Center in East Patchogue, where Cetin was treated for smoke inhalation. The children escaped injury.
Her two oldest sons, 15 and 19, had been staying in Mastic with their grandfather at the time of the fire.
On Friday night, the family was still shaken — not just by the fire but by the warmth shown to them.
They were staying at a hotel suite paid through Tuesday by the hospital. All day, donations streamed in from the Red Cross, firefighters, police and others.
“There are good people out there who donate — and donate fabulous things,” said Cetin’s teenage daughter, Madison Ekici, a William Floyd High School senior.
Among the gifts was a 4-foot Christmas tree, a replacement for the one the family decorated with lights and silver ornaments the day before the fire.
After all was lost, Ekici said some of the youngest children despaired that there would be no Christmas.
Now that they have a new tree, there is hope Santa will come after all. Unbeknownst to the youngsters, Cetin had stored many of their gifts outside and they were not damaged by the fire.
Police said the cause of the fire is under investigation. The family believes it started in the basement, under the mother’s first-floor bedroom because that was where the smoke originated.
Losing their home of 10 years was the latest blow for the family. Cetin said her husband left her, and she had to quit her job as a nursing assistant in September to care for her children.
“I’m just happy my kids are with me and they’re safe,” Cetin said. “I can’t thank God enough and thank all the help from everyone else.”
With John Valenti