HAMBURG, N.Y. (WIVB) — Their house is destroyed, as are most of their belongings, but the Neureuters consider themselves blessed.
Their six-member family is alive and together, and together they’ve experienced miracle after miracle that continues to strengthen their foundation and their belief in God, and help them further realize the generosity of their community.
Early Tuesday morning, a fire tore through their Rosedale Avenue home, where all but one of Jeff and Susan Neureuter’s four children were sleeping. One of their sons was staying at the family’s cottage.
Each was forced to jump from a second-story bedroom window to escape the flames and thick black smoke. Two of the children received minor injuries from the jump and the smoke. Susan fractured a disc in her back, and was released from the hospital.
But the mental anguish is proving more difficult to overcome, she said.
“What in all logic we should be experiencing right now, God was with us,” she said. “He led us out of that home.”
The fire is considered suspicious, but it has not yet been ruled an arson.
Village police arrested a man they found that morning in the front yard of a home next door.
Nicholas Harms, 31, of Eden, was standing shoeless in the grass, his pockets full of items police allege he stole from the Neureuters.
Hours earlier, police said Harms broke into the Neureuters home, went through their kitchen and stole a debit card from a purse. He then found two sets of keys in a cupboard, and used them to rifle through vehicles parked outside, police said. Police said he stole a GPS device and electronics.
At some point, he started the family’s lawn tractor and drove it outside the garage, Susan said, adding that Harms was believed to be intoxicated.
The days since the fire have been a blur for the Neureuters, but they’ve been amazed by their community’s swift and generous outreach.
“It’s stunning. We are so overwhelmed by our community, by our friends, by even the people we don’t even know,” she said. “It just brings us to tears that people who don’t even know us or who don’t want to be recognized are so willing to bless us.”