Elkhart family encouraged by community after fire
Posted: 12/05/2012 at 7:40 pm
By: Sharon Hernandez
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Matthew McQueen sits by boxes of clothes as his family talks about their experience living in a hotel after losing their house to a fire on Nov. 25 in their room at the Candlewood Suites in Elkhart on Wednesday, Dec. 5, 2012. (Truth Photo By Evey Wilson)
(From left) Michael Columbus, Lynn McQueen, Hannah McQueen and Katrina McQueen talk about their experience living in a hotel after losing their house to a fire on Nov. 25 in their room at the Candlewood Suites in Elkhart on Wednesday, Dec. 5, 2012. Their two dogs, Diesel (pictured) and Lola survived the fire. (Truth Photo By Evey Wilson)
Lynn McQueen (left) and her daughter, Hannah, pet their dog Diesel as they talk about their experience living at the Candlewood Suites in Elkhart on Wednesday after losing their house to a fire on Nov. 25. Both of their dogs survived the fire.
Truth Photo By Evey Wilson
McQueen and her step-daughter, Katrina, had stepped out to get some pizza the night of Nov. 25, and on their way back home they saw a fire truck heading in the same direction. Within moments they realized the truck was called to their house, which was in flames by the time they got there. Her two children and her fiance were out from the house. They lost two cats to the fire.
Cleveland Fire Department responded to 30820 Oaksprings Drive around 7 p.m. to the house fire. McQueen said it started because of an electrical malfunction with a dryer. The fire got into the attic and the basement, making parts of the floor and roof collapse.
About 45 minutes later, the Elkhart County Red Cross was on scene to provide shelter and temporary assistance so they could buy food and clothes. The family moved to a hotel room in Elkhart while they find an apartment.
Though no one was injured and the insurance company is helping the family transition to a new home, McQueen said it’s not an easy process, especially when all possessions are lost.
“You don’t realize how much stuff you had until you lose it all,” she said.
The children are all back in school, but her two children, Matthew, 11, and Hannah, 8, are mostly confused about what facing a loss means. Wednesday morning, McQueen went to the Salvation Army to receive assistance in getting toys for her children during the holidays. Their daily routine has been completely altered the last few days; even seeing families putting Christmas lights on their house brings tears to their eyes as they think of the holiday season.
“It’s the little things you just see and it just brings so many feelings,” she said. “But we are surviving. We are taking everything one day at a time.”
As of Wednesday evening, the family was preparing to move to an apartment in Mishawaka next Tuesday.
Family and friends started to circulate the family’s needs through social media. It also reached the Cleveland Township Little League.
Sarah Kemble, president of the Little League, said when she heard that one of their kids was a member of the family that lost their home, she talked with the board to propose collecting donations for McQueen’s family.
“We threw it up on Facebook that we were receiving donations, and we’ve had an enormous response.”
The Little League has received several monetary donations and has been in touch with a company that is interested in donating new baseball equipment. Kemble said the board is still communicating with McQueen to arrange how and when they will give them the donations. Anyone interested may still make donations to the Cleveland Little League. They can also contact the family through email at email@example.com.
The night of the house fire neighbors went to McQueen and her family to give words of encouragement and offer as much help as they could afford.
“There were neighbors who we didn’t even know, people from the trailer park behind us who walked over to ask who they could pray for,” she said. “The community is amazing when something like this happens; they show up just to give you a hug.”