Firefighters save gifts on Christmas Eve at house fire in Whitman

On Monday night, firefighters responded to a house fire on Linden Street in Whitman.

The fire reportedly started in the second-floor kitchen, which was destroyed as a result.

The people who live on the third floor of the complex immediately called 911 after they came home and saw smoke.

No one was home on the second floor at the time of the fire.

Whitman Fire Chief Tim Grenno said three families were displaced from the fire, including the Njenga family.

"It's heart-wrenching because they just lost their home," Grenno said.

Not all was lost as families prepared to celebrate Christmas, as firefighters were able to go back inside to salvage all of the Njenga family's Christmas gifts.

"It was somewhat very rewarding to us, awful time, awful moment," one firefighter said. "It was nice to actually see the people, put a smile back on their face."

Meanwhile, the Njenga family was left feeling the holiday spirit, despite the tragedy.

"It's just amazing, we are so grateful," Kate Njenga said. "We thank God we are safe and the kids had a great Christmas. They don't even know anything happened."

Njenga says the family's incredibly thankful, knowing the firefighters had to leave their own families on Christmas Eve to help them.

"It's tough to, you know, leave my 3-year-old daughter at home to race to a fire," one firefighter said. "But, to see those kids actually get their presents back was nice to know you're doing the right thing."

The fire destroyed the entire second floor of the triple-decker, and the fire chief says it could be several months before that family can move back in.

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The other two families may be able to return in a few days, and no injuries were reported.

"That's all that matters, we are safe and we have each other," Njenga said.

The fire chief says these families were all able to stay with relatives or friends for Christmas Eve, and they're still investigating the cause of the fire. However, they believe it was electrical.

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