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Mother, autistic son OK but homeless

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By Chris Sardelli

 A mother and her son are homeless after a fire claimed their house on Holly Dale Drive on Saturday.

Celetia Springs lived there with her 6-year-old autistic son, Malik.  Springs’ mother, Evelyn Springs, said her daughter and grandson weren’t in the house when it burned, and weren’t harmed.  Evelyn Springs, who organized the Autism Speaks fundraising banquet in October, said the fire most likely started when her daughter accidentally left a kitchen burner unattended.  She had been cooking french fries when Malik ran outside. Because he’s autistic, Malik isn’t allowed outside by himself, so his mother ran after him.  “She thought she turned the stove off,” Evelyn said. “She looked around and discovered smoke coming out of her house.”  Evelyn Springs said her daughter almost went back into the house. “The heat and smoke knocked her back out. She wasn’t able to go in,” she said. “The firefighters said if she had gone in, she would have never come out.” Lancaster County Fire Marshal Stephen Blackwelder said firefighters received the call at 10:43 a.m. and arrived five minutes later.  Three fire departments responded to the fire – Gooches, McDonald Green and Elgin.  Blackwelder said firefighters on the scene determined that the fire had originated in the kitchen.  “This is the time of year when people have more house fires, though most are due to heaters,” Blackwelder said. “Everybody needs to be careful.” The American Red Cross in Lancaster County was called in after the fire and is housing Celetia Springs and her son while they search for another place to live.  “Some people are trying to get a place ready for her,” Evelyn Springs said.  Blackwelder said that whenever the Red Cross is called in, that usually means the home that burned “is not livable.” Celetia Springs was renting the house from a neighbor.  Most of Celetia and Malik’s belongings were destroyed in the fire, except for a few pictures and a yearbook that survived unscathed.  Evelyn Springs said the fire was so intense it melted the refrigerator and that the house is “a total loss.”