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Local first responder saves late family member’s ashes from house fire

Published: May. 10, 2022 at 11:44 PM CDT
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YOUNGSTOWN, Fla. (WJHG/WECP) - It’s been almost two weeks since a fire burned a Youngstown family’s home to the ground, the flames sparing nothing except one item. Local Effie Bridges and her husband were married for 45 years before his passing. Their daughter, Suzie Grissett, tells us her father died four years ago, almost to the day their house burned down.

“To most people this is just stuff, but to us this was our life. This was our everything,” Grissitt said.

This was Grissitt’s first time back at her mother’s house since losing everything to the fire.

“I mean this place was terrible. It was so many flames and people were going in there. It’s just a lot,” Grissitt said.

While they say a picture is worth a thousand words...

“This was daddy’s bedroom, or what’s left of it,” Grissitt said.

For this Youngstown family, this picture is worth the memories of a family member not left behind.

“We already lost daddy once. I couldn’t bear to lose him again and momma couldn’t either, nor my brother,” Grissitt said.

With destruction all around, losing what’s left of their father was unthinkable.

“That was the one thing they wanted saved from the fire. If anything could have been saved, was the urn,” Bay County Firefighter & EMT Alex Miller said.

That’s when Miller, 20, decided he was going to do whatever it took to find the box containing her late father’s ashes.

“Because if it were mine, something sentimental, the actual one thing they wanted from the house was the urn... I put myself in their shoes and did what I would want someone to do for me,” said Miller.

The wooden box was located on a table by sliding glass doors on the backside of the house.

“Daddy was on that shelf right here. Over in there was a shelf,” Grissitt said.

With the roof caved in and the living room and kitchen unrecognizable...

“I know it was something I needed to find and I was going to find it no matter what,” said Miller.

Miller found the box, returning it untouched to the family.

“He was carrying our loved one out to us and it was heartbreaking and heart wrenching, but exciting and thankful and everything is just, you just burst into tears because he doesn’t even realize what he’s done for our family bringing us all back together again,” Grissitt said. “This is what’s left, but daddy made it. This was the best thing that they could’ve done was bring him back to us.”

Even without a house, the family said they have all they need with each other.

“He was our hero that day. He is our hero every day.”

Miller said he was just doing his job and would do it again if he needed.

To donate, visit Effie Bridges and family GoFundMe.

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