Widow loses everything in Rockwood house fire

‘We had 46 years of stuff in that house’

The house seen in the video above is a total loss, and for Sandy Subyak, her heart was already weighty, having lost her daughter four years ago at the age of 34, and then two weeks ago, Subyak lost her husband. Both of their ashes were inside the home as well.

ROCKWOOD, Mich. – A Rockwood woman who lost her daughter four years ago and her husband two weeks ago suffered another loss, as her house was destroyed in a fire.

Sandy Subyak said the ashes of her daughter and husband were both inside the home.

“It’s hard to watch your house completely burn down,” Subyak said.

Subyak had been in the house for 28 years with her husband, Ed Subyak, who she’d just lost this month after 46 years of marriage. His ashes appear to be lost, but the family thinks some of her daughter’s ashes were saved.

“That was the only thing that mattered to me, was getting the two urns out, and my dogs,” Subyak said.

One of the two dogs belonged to her daughter Brandi, and he hasn’t yet been found.

“He is the only thing that I have left of her,” Subyak said.

Subyak thought she had lost her other dog, Stevie, who was trapped in the fire for a while.

“He was in the fire for at least an hour before they found him,” Subyak said. “My neighbor heard him barking.”

Stevie was rushed to the Woodhaven Animal Hospital and put in its hyperbaric chamber. He survived and is back in Subyak’s arms Friday night.

“He still smells like smoke,” Subyak said.

It’s a minor miracle, but still difficult to celebrate.

“I lost so much in there,” Subyak said. “I lost so much of my daughter, so much of my husband, many photos, everything. It’s just so heartbreaking.”

The house fire could’ve been worse, considering Subyak’s 18-year-old granddaughter was the only one home sleeping when the fire started.

So, what woke her?

“She says it was her grandpa that woke her up, and she heard the crackling and knew she had to get out,” Subyak said.

The woman says she is grateful for her friends and family, as they’ve been helping her through these challenging times.

Against Subyak’s wishes, her family started an online fundraiser, and so far, they’ve raised a few thousand dollars.


About the Authors:

Jason anchors Local 4's 5:30 p.m. newscast. He joined WDIV in January 2015 as a general assignment reporter and has a Journalism degree from Michigan State University.

Brandon Carr is a digital content producer for ClickOnDetroit and has been with WDIV Local 4 since November 2021. Brandon is the 2015 Solomon Kinloch Humanitarian award recipient for Community Service.