Community helps Kissimmee firefighter after Ocoee house fire

Greg Lightbody thankful for community's support

ORANGE COUNTY, Fla. – A Kissimmee firefighter who is used to battling flames is now thanking the community after he lost his own home in Ocoee during a fire on New Year's Day.

Greg and Cayla Lightbody said they relive the devastation every time they come back to their home. A Christmas tree still stands inside their living room among the severe smoke damage and the charred remains of their house.

"Something I'm used to seeing all the time, and how surreal it was for it to be my own," Greg Lightbody said. 

Greg Lightbody works for the Kissimmee Fire Department. He was on duty New Year's Day morning when he got what he describes as the scariest call in his life.

The family van caught on fire in the driveway, and the flames then spread to their home.

"I woke up smelling smoke," Cayla Lightbody said.

Cayla Lightbody, their two sons, ages 3 and 5, and visiting family members were inside the home at the time of the fire. Everyone got out safely, including the family's dogs. 

But the home the Lightbodys bought six months ago was destroyed. 

The family is now picking up the pieces to rebuild their home. They said they're working with their insurance company and currently staying at a hotel. 

The Kissimmee Fire Department stepped in to help right away. Several firefighters responded to the scene the day of the fire, put up a tarp on the roof and boarded up the home. 

Chief Jim Walls said he is proud of how the department reacted.

"It was a very proud moment for me as fire chief to see how many of (the) crew members came off duty to help our brother in need," Walls said. 
The community is also getting results for Greg Lightbody and his family. On Friday, Walls gave them a $400 check from the City of Kissimmee General Employees Organization to help the family recover.
A family friend also started a GoFundMe page to help raise money and collected clothes and toys for the children.
Greg Lightbody said he is overwhelmed by the community's support and willingness to help his family. 
"Thank you is the only word I can come up with. I wish there was a strong word for everything," he said.
It is unclear what caused the van to catch on fire.

The state fire marshal is investigating but said it is not considered suspicious. According to state fire officials, the cost of damages is roughly $30,000, with the van being a total loss and most structural damage sustained to the garage.

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