Members of a Columbus family temporarily left homeless by a Monday night fire don’t know when they will be allowed back into their house.
So for now, Michael Goff, 34, and his five children — ages 5 to 14 — will remain housed in two motel rooms in the city.
That’s according to Salvation Army envoy Amy Tomkins, whose organization is assisting the Cornbrook Addition family.
Meanwhile, investigators will likely never know what started the 10 p.m. fire at 4591 N. County Road 150W on the city’s northwest side, said Capt. Mike Wilson, Columbus Fire Department spokesman.
“Our investigators were not able to make any determination,” Wilson said.
“There’s no evidence that led us down any particular path for a cause.”
The blaze that destroyed a second-floor room above a detached garage did not cause interior damage to the main residence, Wilson said.
However, the heat and flames did cause excessive damage to both the gas and electrical service to the house, Wilson said.
“Those services will take some time to get fixed,” he said.
Goff told investigators that the fire originated outside, between his garage and the next-door residence of Michael Jones, 62, at 4611 N. 150 West.
Damage to the detached garage on the Goffs’ rental property was estimated at $40,000, Wilson said.
Next door, damage to the Jones residence was listed as $50,000 for the structure and $15,000 for contents, he said.
Tompkins, who met with Goff on Thursday, said she learned the family will not be allowed to return until they confirm to the State Fire Marshal’s office that all utilities have been professionally repaired and inspected, Tompkins said. A roof inspection will also likely be required, she said.
Goff, who works for Honda in Greensburg, did not have insurance on the rental home owned by the Wiper Corporation of Boca Raton, Florida, Wilson said.
But Goff plans to seek assistance through local nonprofits to find qualified volunteers willing to do the necessary inspections, Tompkins said.
“The family seems to be doing well,” Tompkins said after talking with Goff. “He told me all they need is clothes, especially underclothes. We got all the information, so we can take of them.”
Although Christmas presents were destroyed by the fire, the Columbus Firemen’s Cheer Fund and the Salvation Army have expressed a willingness to work in partnership to provide the family with their holiday needs.
Jones had told investigators that he would be staying with family members.