Nineveh father touched by tragedy holds tight to memories

NINEVEH, Ind. (WISH) – A father, touched by tragedy, holds his memories tight. Christopher Abbott lost his wife, and two small children in a house fire in Nineveh last November.

He was at work and his daughter, now 6-year-old Alexandria, managed to escape. Abbott says they’ve been working to heal and grieve with support from their family, church, his faith and the overwhelming amount of support from the community.

“Don’t ever take for granted what you have today because it could be gone tomorrow,” Abbott said. “My life changed in twelve hours. My life went from a family of five to a family of two in a matter of 12 hours.”

It was November 22, 2013 when a fire broke out at his home in Nineveh. His wife, Sirena, was home with their three young children.

Alexandria escaped the home safely, but 6-month-old John Ryan, and 18-month-old Hailey Lynn passed away. Days later, 29-year-old Sirena passed away at a local hospital after she’d tried to run back inside the burning home to save her babies.

“There’s not a day that goes by that I don’t think of my wife and two children. I think about it every day,” Abbott said. “It’s hard, physically and emotionally it’s been a roller coaster.”

It’s the little things -the things one may take for granted – that Chris misses the most these days.

“Just coming home, and having the kids greet me at the door. They were always there,” he said.

Abbott finds strength from his parents, his family, and his little girl, Alexandria.

The church held a 6-year-old birthday party for her in January.

“It’s something her mother would have done,” said Abbott.

Abbott said he and his family had just joined The Crossing Church in Nineveh in September. It was there he found strength, as well.

“The church has been there for me since day one,” Abbott said. “I actually find my strength, really, in God. I do a lot of praying. I carry the Bible with me wherever I go.”

Abbott says he and Sirena met years ago while working at McDonalds. They were married for four years.

“I couldn’t have asked for a better person to have children with. She was just perfect. She was a perfect mother. She would do anything for the kids,” he said.

He says this week has been difficult, learning the cause of the fire: A candle officials say 18-month old Hailey was playing with.

“I was numb. I can only recall two candles in my house, and they were both in glass jars,” he said.

“I just wish I was there to change everything, and I wasn’t. That’s the part I struggle with the most. That’s the part I beat myself up over. I feel like I should have been there, and I wasn’t,” he added.

Abbott says through it all, he is also thankful for the support from the community. They’ve raised money for him and gave donations right after the fire.

“It meant a lot to me. I didn’t realize there were so many people who cared,” he said.

Friday, the home was still standing just as it was last November.

“I drive by it about 5:30 p.m. every day. It’s like reliving the same time in my life, over and over and over,” says Abbott. “I’d really like to see the house torn down and a park built in its spot.”

“It would help me and it would help the community,” he said.

24-Hour News 8 tried to contact the insurance company for the owner of that home to find out the timeline of when the home may be turned back over to its owner, we have not yet heard back.

As Abbott and his daughter continue the healing and the grieving process, Abbott says the words he can never stress enough.

“Don’t ever take for granted what you have today, because it could be gone tomorrow.”

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