Smoke billowed into the night sky and the smell of fire filled the air.
Her whole life was blackened and burnt before her, but her mind kept returning to the thought of her family’s dogs who were inside when the fire started. Screaming for someone to go save them, she could not understand why they were not.
She was not worried about the material things she had lost but about the thought of losing a family member.
Delaney Setzler, 18, watched the firefighters attempt to rescue her two dogs from the fire that destroyed her family’s home July 11, 2020. One dog made it out alive. She later watched them assess the damage and said the ordeal changed the way she looked at life.
The day started off pleasantly.
Setzler and her family were in Sandusky for a baseball tournament and then a trip to Cedar Point. Delaney’s mother, Tracy Setzler, received a call from Dayna Oldenburg, a neighbor and family friend.
Setzler said her mother picked up the phone, and the two of them initially played it off as a joke.
Once realizing that it was not a prank, she began sobbing.
Setzler said the fire was extinguished by the time they arrived but smoke still encased the home.
“My whole neighborhood came outside,” Setzler said. “We ended up just sitting in a circle and talking and I ended up crying a lot. Talking to everyone was, overall, not a bad experience.”
Her neighbors did not leave her side that night. The support helped because she knew they would be there for her to talk to or for anything she needed.
Setzler said the cause of the fire was left undetermined. Each investigator who examined the house and the damage came to a different conclusion about the origin of the fire.
A few weeks later, she was able to see what remained of her house.
“Everything I’ve ever owned was completely gone,” Setzler said.
She said seeing everything she loved charred and covered in soot, her house, destroyed at her feet, made the reality of this situation set in, but she would not have been able to grow as much as she had if not for the overwhelming support from friends, family, the community and complete strangers.
Almost immediately after, friends offered them a place to stay. Strangers came together and donated bags of clothes to help the family get back on their feet.
Parker Stamper, a Monroe High School senior and one of Setzler’s friends, started a GoFundMe page in addition to one already created by Setzler’s aunt to help the family.
Stamper said the fundraiser surpassed her expectations by reaching a total of $1,631. Setzler was shocked and extremely grateful when she found out.
Setzler said she and her family were overwhelmed by the support and donations from the community. She said the clothes were more than enough for the family, and whatever they did not use was donated because she wanted to give back after everyone was so generous in her time of need.
Setzler said she learned to make more memories and focus on those memories as opposed to what she had lost.
Her mother said people matter more than possessions. “The memories are always going to be there. Taking pictures of thing has definitely helped her to remember.”
Tracy Setzler said this experience was tragic, but it was the catalyst to bring about these changes, progress and growth in her daughter’s life.
Setzler found a way to grow and improve her outlook on life. This experience was difficult, but she said she could not have done it without the support from everyone around her.
She said she learned memories are valuable because those can never be replaced.