Dozens of strangers help Elgin family who lost home in fire just days before Christmas

FOX 32 NEWS - With Christmas just days away, two families are without a home Tuesday night after a fire ripped through a house in northwest suburban Elgin.

It could have been worse, though. Three teens and a child were trapped in the flames.

"Everything's gone. We have to start all over again,” said Amy Bishop.

Amy and Jeremy Bishop were headed home from work just after midnight when they got a frantic call from their 16-year-old daughter, Lindsey.

"She was hysterical. I couldn't understand her. And what I did get was everything's gone. The house is on fire,” Amy said.

Lindsey and the Bishop's other three children, 19-year-old Katrina, 14-year-old Lucas and 12-year-old Kyle, were trapped as fire roared through the second floor of the duplex home in Elgin’s historic district.

Downstairs neighbor Tyrone Strother says he jumped into action.

"We heard the girls up there screaming. So I got my clothes, ran out. Came around, went upstairs and the little boy was just standing there looking at the fire. So I brought him downstairs,” Strother said.

The other boy, Lucas, was also able to escape but the two teenage girls were trapped behind the flames.

"I saw a woman halfway hanging out the window here, black smoke pouring out, another one out the front window,” neighbor Willis Weiler said.

Elgin firefighters used ladders to pull the girls out the windows to safety. All four of the children were hospitalized.

"She's got burns all over her back. Her hair’s burnt. They were black from head to toe. They’ve got really bad smoke inhalation. Frostbite on their feet,” Amy said.

Jeremy Bishop believes the fire was sparked by space heaters.

"They were always hot. I kept turning them down low. They were melting our curtains so we took the curtains out. It still started my bed on fire with my kids in it,” Jeremy said.

The Bishops lost all their belongings, plus several family pets and have now created a GoFundMe page to help them find a place to live during the holidays.

Already, dozens of complete strangers have donated more than two thousand dollars.

"Grandma always said God doesn't give you more than you can handle. So apparently we can handle a whole lot. We just take it hour by hour because if I think too much I lose it,” Amy said.

All four of the Bishop's children were discharged from the hospital Tuesday night. The downstairs neighbor, who has five children, has also been forced to leave the home.

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