Forest Park woman loses house in fire weeks after open-heart surgery

Help is on the way for Katie Elsen thanks to a fundraiser put on by friends and family.
Published: Sep. 20, 2021 at 9:26 PM EDT
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FOREST PARK, Ohio (WXIX) - The Forest Park community is rallying around a woman who lost her most of her belongings in a house fire just weeks after having heart surgery.

Katie Elsen’s is keeping positive, but it’s been a hard few months for her.

She had quadruple bypass surgery earlier this summer. A few weeks later, while she was still weak coming off the surgery, she was at her rental home when she noticed the flicker of flames through her back windows.

“I opened the door, and the whole back porch was on fire,” she said. “And then I told myself, ‘Close the door, close the door, you got to get out of here, you don’t have time.’”

The flames were tall―as high as 15 feet, Elsen recalls.

Shocked and terrified, Elsen hurried out of the home. After getting outside, she heard a series of two explosions.

“It was just so quick,” she said. “Within five minutes, there was black smoke coming from my house.”

The Forest Park Fire Department responded to the fire. Firefighters helped rescue one of her cats, Cici.

“She came running out, and the firemen grabbed her,” Elsen said. “She was kind of limping and drooling. Her ears were burnt off, and her whiskers and her paw pads.”

Elsen’s other cat didn’t make it, and she carries that guilt weeks later.

“It’s a horrific experience for anyone to go through,” she said.

The house was a total loss. To make matters worse, Elsen didn’t have renters insurance, according to an online fundraiser.

People in Forest Park created that fundraiser as a way of helping Elsen get back on her feet.

“Just very blessed to have the support of friends and family and people I don’t even know,” Elsen said. “That just blows me away. You don’t see that much nowadays.”

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