85-year-old COVID-19 survivor loses home in Christmas Day fire

Great grandmother's home destroyed in fire

Clay, FL. —

Virginia Steinke, 85, who nearly lost her life to the coronavirus in September, lost her Clay County home in a fire on Christmas Day.

A spokesperson for Clay County Fire Rescue tells Action News Jax a space heater connected to an extension cord started the fire.

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Steinke tells Action News Jax she and her two sons had just finished Christmas dinner around 4 p.m. when they heard a noise coming from the garage. It was the family’s cat scratching on the door leading into the home.

“My cat, we keep him in the garage, and we heard scratches on the door,” said Steinke. “… And my son, Roger, got up and opened the door, and went out to the garage. And it was just enflamed, and the flames just shot in. He shut the door real quick and we went out the front door.”

Steinke says she, her sons, the cat, and a dog, ran out of the home to safety.

It’s not the first hardship the family’s faced this year.

Steinke tells us she spent about three weeks in the hospital battling COVID-19 in September.

“I was in the hospital for three weeks with it. Almost lost my life one night but the doctors and the Lord pulled me through,” she said. “… I’d been on oxygen ever since I got out of the hospital. But my lungs have healed well, good enough to take off oxygen. I’m thankful for that.”

The community’s now rallying around her family.

“Please ask people to pray for us because we’re going to need lots of prayers,” she said. “And that’s what got me through corona too. Because people were praying for me and the lord heard their prayers and answered it.”

You can read more about the family’s story here.

Clay County Fire Rescue would like to remind the public to plug space heaters directly into a wall outlet, never use an extension cord, and remember to turn them off and unplug them when you leave a room or go to bed.