Neenah family fighting son’s brain cancer loses home to grease fire
NEENAH, Wis. (WBAY) - A Neenah family already dealing with a medical crisis is dealt another blow, losing their home to a fire.
Investigators say unattended cooking led to a grease fire at their house in Neenah Monday night. At about 8:30, Neenah-Menasha Fire Rescue was called to the 800-block of Cecil Street.
Shayla Van Stippen, her three kids, and her fiance all escaped the fire, but picking up the pieces from the fire is just one challenge the family is facing.
Late last month, Van Stippen’s 13-year-old son, Chance, was rushed to Children’s Wisconsin in Milwaukee and diagnosed with an aggressive form of brain cancer.
The teen underwent four brain surgeries in two weeks, including removing part of his brain tumor, in an effort to save his life. He was released from Children’s Wisconsin just last Friday.
“Radiation is Monday through Friday. So, as of right now, a year has been talked about of radiation. So, I don’t know the specifics, if it’s a consistent one whole year or we go for six, eight weeks, get a week, two weeks off. I’m not sure. We find out more on the 26th, more thoroughness of everything,” Van Stippen said.
According to Van Stippen, the family was all back home together, getting settled for her son’s upcoming radiation and chemo treatments when the fire started.
She says she put some oil into a pot to make her kids french fries. She stepped outside for a minute and the oil boiled over, setting a portion of the kitchen on fire.
”I had heard, like, the sirens start going, but more so I saw lights flashing and I smelled smoke, and when I turned I had seen the oil had overflowed onto the oven and started a fire. So, I grabbed a lid to try closing off the fire and that did not work, it just kind of lit up more,” she said.
She and her fiance tried to put it out but couldn’t.
“I made the mistake of using water on a grease fire. So, I threw water on it and it lit him and myself on fire.”
All they could do was watch from outside and wait for the fire department to arrive. The first engine arrived to find heavy smoke and fire coming from the single-story home.
“Within a matter of minutes everything was gone. You couldn’t see into the house, it was complete black,” Van Stippen said.
Due to the significant amount of fire and smoke, the department upgraded the call for extra help from area departments. They were able to quickly get the fire under control.
Still, a large amount of smoke billowed from the roof. That required extensive overhaul.
The fire department wrote in a statement, “We would also like to remind residents that water should not be used to extinguish a grease fire,” reads a statement from the department. “It is best to smother the flames by sliding a lid on the pan, turn off the burner, and leave the pan covered until it is completely cooled.”
The family wasn’t able to save any of their belongings.
”We lost everything. The house has been deemed a total loss. So, right now we don’t have a home. We have the clothes all on our back is what we have right now. So, we’ve had a lot of people, we put out the sizes that everyone is in, and then household, we need everything. We lost everything,” Van Stippel said.
The family already had a GoFundMe page to help with the costs for Chance’s cancer treatments. Now they’re asking for help as they try to recover from this fire, too.
Other needs and clothing sizes:
- Camdyn is a size 5 in boys jeans, a size 5 as well as fits a size 6 for shirts, sweaters & hoodies size 6 so there’s more room for him. He’s in a size 10 toddler shoes.
- Caydence is a size 5 in juniors jeans, size small in juniors for sweatpants/leggings, size small for juniors tops. Size small in juniors for hoodies/sweaters. Shoes a size 5.
- Chance is a size 34 in men’s jeans, medium sometimes large in sweatpants/joggers (men’s). For shirts size XL (he likes it to be bigger cus of his insecurities with his body) sometimes large in men’s. Size XL for hoodies/sweaters (men’s). Shoes he is a size 10 adult.
- Dak is a size 32 men’s jeans. Size large for shirts/sweaters/hoodies. Size medium/or large for sweatpants. Size 10 shoes.
- Shayla is a size 8 in shoes. XL for shirts/hoodies/sweaters and for leggings/yogas as well. Size 14/16 for jeans.
- Shampoo with conditioner
- Dry shampoo
- Body wash
- Toothpaste and toothbrushes
- Hair brushes
- Mattresses and bed frames
- Blankets, sheets, pillows
- Living room furniture
- Kitchen table
- Pots and pans
The home had no fire sprinkler system but it did have working smoke detectors. The fire department asks people to test their detectors monthly and change batteries once a year.
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