James Schmidt stared in silence on Monday at the burned, broken bedroom where the fire started.
His grandmother, Mary Martin, 75, was a strong woman who loved to be in that home. It was the place where Martin took care of her family.
But it was also the place that caused her death.
Martin died Sunday of smoke inhalation that she'd suffered two days earlier when her home caught fire.
Martin's neighbor, Justin Maczuga, was devastated at news of Martin’s death. He was the one who woke from a dead sleep on Friday morning and noticed his neighbor's home was burning.
He raced to the home and tried to open the door, but it was locked. Firefighters arrived moments later and pulled Martin's body from the burning house. They resuscitated her before she was taken to the hospital.
She died Sunday afternoon at a Toledo hospital.
“It’s terrible to hear,” Maczuga said. “I was just thinking that she was always telling me jokes. With our age difference, that was something special.”
Maczuga remembered that Martin, his neighbor of four years, liked to feed the birds and squirrels.
It’s a duty he may now have to take over.
Across the street, neighbor Ida Kusser said Martin visited her Thursday afternoon to share some ham and cabbage.
“She knew I don’t get out often,” Kusser said. “She was quite a lady.”
Sandusky fire marshal Rudy Ruiz said the fire appears to have started in a vacant bedroom, but the cause is still under investigation. He estimated the fire caused about $30,000 in damage.
Firefighters worked for more than three hours to stamp out the fire and hot spots, finally leaving at about 6:30 a.m.
It's uncertain if there was a working smoke detector in the home.
“She almost made it out,” Ruiz said. “If she had had one, I feel fairly certain she would have made it out.”
Visitation will be 4-7 p.m. Wednesday at David F. Koch Funeral Home, 520 Columbus Ave., Sandusky. Arrangements are pending at the funeral home.