Fire leaves Brookston family homeless, but not without supportersUPDATE: A fire destroyed a mobile home on Pine Drive near Brookston Sept. 19, leaving a mom, grandmother and 8-year-old boy with little but the clothes on their backs. On the bright side, since the Pine Journal story was published online Friday and in the Duluth News Tribune Saturday, offers of help and support have been pouring in.
By: Jana Peterson, Pine Journal
A fire destroyed a mobile home on Pine Drive near Brookston Sept. 19, leaving a mom, grandmother and 8-year-old boy with little but the clothes on their backs.
Tanya Reynolds, who lived in the home with her mother, Brenda Abramowski, 55, and son, Dylan Morneau, 8, said they were preparing a birthday dinner for Abramowski last Wednesday when something near the stove must have caught on fire.
“We figure it was either grease or a towel that caught fire,” Reynolds said, explaining that there were three adults in the home when the fire started. “It’s an older trailer, and [the fire] hit the ceiling and went so fast we couldn’t put it out.”
Reynolds said they lost almost everything. Her son at least had his school shoes on; he arrived home on the bus to find their mobile home burned to the ground. Reynolds and her mom, on the other hand, fled the house in their slippers.
On Friday, the last of a three-day hotel stay provided by the Red Cross, Reynolds said she was “kind of freaking out” because she didn’t know where they were going to live or how they would replace everything that was lost.
How things change.
Since the Pine Journal story was published online Friday and in the Duluth News Tribune Saturday, offers of help and support have been pouring in.
“The outpouring of support from people is unbelievable,” Abramowski said Wednesday afternoon. “We had an 82-year-old lady call with some shirts; we’re going to meet her Friday. And a friend I hadn’t talked to in years Facebooked me and came up and donated a twin bed for Dylan, blankets, pots and pans. I’m just so overwhelmed. How do you repay all the kindness?”
They found a place to live on Canosia Road and moved in Monday. Morneau went back to school at Churchill Elementary Tuesday and every one of his classmates had made him a card.
“He read them out loud to us on the way home from school,” Abramowski said. “They were all telling him how they hoped he was OK and hoped he would find a house.”
There’s still a long way to go before life gets back to normal, however. All three lost most of their clothes except what they were wearing. Abramowski also lost all her medications in the fire – she is partially handicapped, suffering from a breathing disorder, osteoporosis and spinal degeneration, among other things, Reynolds said.
Because they were able to salvage very little, the family needs a little bit of everything required for daily life. Clothing needs range from women’s sizes XL to 2X, size 8.5 shoe (regular and wide) plus kid’s size 12 husky pants, 14-16 boys or medium men’s shirts. They need furniture, towels, sheets, household goods, wall decorations, even food (although Reynolds said they were meeting with the Salvation Army on Thursday).
Anyone with items to donate can call Reynolds or Abramowski at 218-269-4248 ¬ – luckily Abramowski had her cell phone in her pocket when they escaped the fire.
“I’m happy we have four walls and a ceiling,” Abramowski said. “And my grandson is just ecstatic.”
Cloquet Area Fire District – along with volunteer departments from Culver, West Brevator and Arrowhead – responded to the fire in rural St. Louis County, as did Joel Huenemann, a longtime disaster volunteer for the Northland Chapter of the American Red Cross.
CAFD Battalion Chief Jesse Buhs said all three CAFD stations (Cloquet, Scanlon and Perch Lake) responded to the fire as well as the three other departments they work cooperatively with in that rural St. Louis County area.
“We had a good turnout [of firefighters], but the fire had about a 15-minute head start because of the drive time,” he said. “They were able to salvage a few mementoes, but the vast majority of the home and contents was subject to intense heat or smoke damage.”
There is one final bit of good news, Buhs noted.
“Their very new puppy had taken shelter under the trailer and we were able to coax him out before he suffered any serious injury,” Buhs said.