Spring Grove family loses home and pet to fire; church asks community to help

Liz Evans Scolforo
York Dispatch

A family who lost their Spring Grove home to a devastating fire Monday night is known for helping others, but they now find themselves in need of their neighbors' support, according to their pastor.

Chris and Tiffany Sauer and their 3-year-old son, Zachary, are staying with a neighbor for the time being, said Pastor Alison Kurland of Spring Grove's St. Paul Evangelical Lutheran Church, where the Sauers are parishioners.

"They lost everything," Kurland said, including their cat. "It was a kitchen fire and the roof collapsed. They were able to get out of the house, luckily."

The Central Pennsylvania chapter of the Greater Pennsylvania Region of the American Red Cross is assisting the family, Red Cross spokesperson Lisa Landis said Tuesday night.

The Spring Grove home of Tiffany and Chris Sauer was destroyed by fire on Feb. 1, 2021. They and son Zachary lost everything, according to Pastor Alison Kurland of St. Paul Lutheran Church, who is organizing ways to help the Sauers.

Lifetime of possessions gone: "We want to help our family in need in whatever way we can, to restore their lives," she said. "They lost an entire lifetime worth of stuff."

Chris and Tiffany Sauer are good people who have helped others, including regularly donating to the food pantry at St. Paul Lutheran and visiting an elderly church member who doesn't get out much, Kurland said.

"They moved here from Maryland about two years ago, and that's when they joined our church," she said; the Sauers bought the home from a couple who also are members of the St. Paul congregation.

Kurland has helped to create a GoFundMe fundraiser to help the Sauer family. As of 2 p.m. Wednesday, it had raised more than $12,000.

"They've been overwhelmed just by the response they've already gotten," she said.

The church is also organizing a meal train so the Sauer family will have one less thing to worry about on a daily basis, and has provided the family with some clothing and diapers, the pastor said.

That's something the church traditionally does for members in need, according to Kurland.

The home of Chris and Tiffany Sauer is shown in the 400 block of Hamlet Drive West in Spring Grove, Tuesday, Feb. 2, 2021. The home was destroyed by a two-alarm fire Monday night. The Sauers and their son Zachary, 3, made it out of the house safely, but the family cat was lost in the fire. Dawn J. Sagert photo

Heavy fire: No one was hurt during the two-alarm blaze in the 400 block of Hamlet Drive, according to Assistant Fire Chief Garrett Strouse of the borough's Friendship Hose Fire Co. No. 1., but the home was destroyed.

Firefighters were called to the single-family, one-story brick home about 6:45 p.m. Monday and found heavy fire throughout most of the living spaces, Strouse said.

"I believe there was fire from the roof as well," he said.

Despite crews rushing into the burning home to battle the blaze, it couldn't be saved, according to Strouse.

"It was a total loss — probably around $200,000 (in damage), unfortunately," he said. The damage estimate includes the building and its contents, he confirmed.

No one was hurt in the blaze, and the family members were out of their home by the time fire crews arrived, Strouse said.

A York Area Regional police officer arrived on the scene about a minute after the fire was dispatched by York County 911, according to police.

The officer saw heavy smoke and flames coming from the home and helped the family escape, police said. 

The home of Chris and Tiffany Sauer is shown in the 400 block of Hamlet Drive West in Spring Grove, Tuesday, Feb. 2, 2021. The home was destroyed by a two-alarm fire Monday night. The Sauers and their son Zachary, 3, made it out of the house safely, but the family cat was lost in the fire. Dawn J. Sagert photo

Prepared for weather: Firefighters had the blaze under control fairly quickly, he said, and they remained on the scene for about four hours to ensure it was fully extinguished.

Although the snowstorm made it more difficult for volunteers to get to the station and for fire trucks to get to the scene, those delays weren't unexpected and crews were prepared with tire chains and snow tires, according to Strouse.

The cause of the blaze is being jointly investigated by York Area Regional Police and a state police fire marshal, Strouse said.

Firefighters from a number of nearby fire companies and departments helped battle Monday's blaze, he said.

To help the Sauer family, make a donation at the "Sauer's Fire" page on gofundme.com.

People can also drop off checks and food donations at St. Paul Lutheran Church or mail donations to the church, 201 S. Main St. in Spring Grove, PA 17362, Kurland said.

Those with questions about how to best help can call the church at 717-225-3466, she said.

— Reach senior crime reporter Liz Evans Scolforo at levans@yorkdispatch.com or on Twitter at @LizScolforoYD.