SCOTTSVILLE, Va. (WVIR) - Suzette Oyler and her family were on their way home from dinner when they saw smoke. Once they pulled up to their Scottsville house, they saw a sight they’ll never forget.
Ashes and charred possessions are all that’s left of the Oyler’s family home after a lightning strike on Tuesday burnt it to the ground.
“And then when we came around the corner, we’re like, ‘oh my God, our house is on fire,” Suzette Oyler said.
Among the family’s losses were at least one cat and priceless family heirlooms.
“It just makes you really look at everything differently, and you know, your appreciation, values completely change,” Oyler said. “This could have happened at night when we were sleeping.”
But through the ashes and destruction, Suzette found her late mother’s jewelry box, and a reason to smile.
“When we went to the back of the house and threw down a piece of sheetrock - there was her jewelry box. And although it was really charred when I opened the doors, everything was fine, inside it,” she said.
Suzette’s mom was so important to her. She was an artist.
“Having her artwork hanging on our walls, every room, everywhere even stacked up in the basement for our daughter someday, was a piece of her. And we lost a piece of her,” she said.
But a few of those paintings survived. They are an old, yet remarkably new treasure for the family.
“I miss you mom,” Oyler said while holding up a photo of her mom just feet from where her house stood. “I hope to see you one day again. One day again.”
Now, a GoFundMe page, started by Suzette and Robert Oyler’s daughter Harley, will help with what comes next.
“We’re going to build it back,” Suzette Oyler said.
Another story of survival: one of the Oyler’s cats, Onyx, was found alive on Friday evening in the basement.
“This gives us hope that my 17-year-old daughter’s cat, Biscuit, might be okay,” Suzette wrote to NBC29.