Fort Mill Times

Tega Cay family put things in perspective

The Greek family enjoy a moment on the porch of their temporary Tega Cay home. They are (from left): Zachary, 7, Jesica, William, 11, Nathaniel and Nicholas, 9.
The Greek family enjoy a moment on the porch of their temporary Tega Cay home. They are (from left): Zachary, 7, Jesica, William, 11, Nathaniel and Nicholas, 9.

Nathaniel and Jesica Greek can't grieve for their Lakeshore neighborhood home destroyed in a fire more than a month ago.

They, do, however, miss the stuff that mapped their lives.

A white outfit Nathaniel, as a newborn, wore home from the hospital 36 years ago.

A cedar chest with treasures from Jesica's childhood.

Calli, the family's cat, who loved to eat pieces of ice.

And mementos that celebrate the life of a twin son that death stole four years ago.

"His Sponge Bob pillow and blanket," Nathaniel said. "They were memories. They were unique. Those things break my heart."

An electrical problem triggered the Wind Song Bay fire, officials said. But the Greeks aren't angry about the Good Friday blaze that gutted their two-story home of nearly three years.

They're grateful.

"We have our family," Jesica said. "Everyone's safe. We know that we will be fine."

While they miss their possessions and the familiarly of the haven they called home, the Tega Cay family has one mission: They won't be a victim to the fire.

"This is life," Nathaniel said. "We had our home burn down. We are going to pick up, clean up, get back on our feet and move on."

Remembrance

Jesica remembers the fire.

"I normally take medicine, and I didn't that night," Jesica said of medicine that induces sleep. "God was watching out for us."

The family was sleeping. Around 3 a.m., a voice from the family's CCI security system broke Jesica's sleep.

"I heard the voice, and also the dog stated barking," Jesica recalled. "I opened my eyes. I saw the smoke and heard the voice. Adrenaline kicked in."

Smoke alarms woke Jesica's sons,William, 11, Nicholas, 9, and Zachary, 7.

"Our mom screamed, "Fire!" Nicholas recalled. "Then, 'Follow the emergency plan.' We ran so fast that I actually slipped down the stairs and bruised below my right knee."

Nicholas and his brothers ran across the street to their neighbor's porch and rang the doorbell as fire erupted out a window.

"Are they still inside trying to put it out?" William recalled thinking about his parents.

What he didn't know was that his mother stood near the door to her master bedroom. She could see the flames and thick smoke that threatened to cut off Nathaniel's oxygen.

Then the door slammed shut, forcing Jesica to bang on the door and holler Nathaniel's name. Somehow, he woke and made his way to the door. He can't remember the fire, save what Jesica has told him about the flames that licked the ceiling and encroached across a wall as Nathaniel slept.

"I was only separated by the distance of the width of a night stand," he said. "The curtains were in flames. The entire wall was engulfed in flames."

The couple, marred by soot, made their way down a flight of steps and out the house.

"When I saw my dad's face, he was scary because of the soot," Nicholas said. "His face was black."

Fire officials previously said they believed the fire started in the wall from an electrical outlet, triggering damages estimated between $350,000 and $500,000.

And the fire has left its mark on the family.

"It's upsetting because in the old house we had friends behind us and in front of us," Nicholas said. "I knew most of the people in the neighborhood. I only know three people in this neighborhood."

William misses the memories created at the house.

"It was the first one [house] we got when we moved to South Carolina," he said. "It was very special. A lot of memories in it."

The Greeks stayed with relatives for about 10 days before moving into a Tega Cay rental property about a mile from their former subdivision.

"It's a good house for us while we rebuild our other one," Jesica said. "We will build it back as close as possible to what we had before."

Life is overwhelming, especially when dealing with insurance-related issues, she said.

"It's harder when you have a large monetary lost," she said. "It's just a process that we have to go through."

Jesica won't go by her former home.

"I just dislike going over to the house," she said. "It's right there. All the things that we lost. We lived on a beautiful street. The house is there. It's just sad... Being there brings everything about the fire right to mind. I'm not prepared to deal with that right now."

Instead, she focuses on her boys.

"Every time there's smoke or a fire truck, my youngest [son] talks about it," she said.

Nathaniel can't remember the fire, but about two weeks ago he saw pictures.

"Of my house in flames," he explained. "I was just blown away. It seem so very surreal to me. Even a month later, it doesn't seem real."

But more than anything, the Greeks mourn the lost of possessions associated with their twin son, who died years ago. For the firefighters who went back in the house and retrieved bags of possessions and the community that's rallied behind their Tega Cay family, the Greeks are appreciative beyond words.

"It has been amazing," Nathaniel said.

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