LEBANON, Ohio — There’s such a thing as being a good neighbor. Then, there’s Mike Richter.
On Monday, June 13, Richter was the first to notice his neighbors' Lebanon home had caught fire following a lightning strike.
"I saw a rush of flames in that window and thought, this is really bad," Richter said.
He called 911, and then called his neighbors.
Carmen and Jodie Scalfaro were celebrating their daughter’s 17th birthday 30 miles away. Piper, the Scalfaro family’s dog, was trapped inside the burning home.
"He called me and said you gotta get Piper out of the house. Ran around to the garage door, the power wasn’t on," Richter said. "He told me to bust down the front door, and I did."
Richter said he relied on instinct to break down the door.
"I think she was more startled that someone broke down the door than anything else," he said. "She wouldn’t come near me. She’d normally come right to me. That’s why I had to pick her up."
Carmen Scalfaro said he is grateful for his neighbor’s quick action.
"Can’t say enough, really aren’t words we can express to him or to all the first responders," Scalfaro said.
When the Scalfaro family arrived back at their house, they noticed most of what they called 'home' was gone.
“This can all be replaced," Scalfaro said. "Everything around us, we’ve talked to the builder today, everything can be replaced."
But not Piper, who the family said is doing well.
“She was just as excited to see me as I was to see her," Scalfaro said. "She jumped on me, and the rest of the night — and honestly since — she’s been stuck to our hip."
Since the fire, the family has received an outpouring of support. Jodie Scalfaro said they’re grateful for all of the help.
“Putting one foot in front of the other. Relying on so many people who are carrying us through the whole thing," she said. "The generosity of the community of Mason and Lebanon. So many people have been so generous to us — carrying us through this thing through God’s grace."
A GoFundMe has raised more than $37,000 for the family.
Friday, the family sifts through their belongings inside their burned home. They’ll rebuild. They said they’re just grateful for their neighbor’s quick thinking.
“Before this, Mike was my neighbor and friend," said Jodie Scalfaro. "Now he’s my brother."