The Free Press, Mankato, MN

Local News

October 4, 2013

House fire victims looking for more helping hands

Benefit planned for victims of house fire

MANKATO — In the aftermath of the fire that rendered their Broad Street home unlivable, the home's occupants were gathered outside, staring at the charred house and wondering what they were going to do next.

One of them said, "All we have left is the clothes on our back."

Then, whether it was luck or fate or the planets being aligned properly, something beautiful happened.

"A guy happened to be walking by," said Nikki Lewis, one of the occupants displaced by the fire. "He heard one of us say that and then he reached into his wallet and pulled out a $100 bill and gave it to us. He said, 'Here, you need it more than I do.'"

Lewis and the rest of the people who lived there are hoping that kind of luck continues as they reach out to the public for help getting back on their feet.

Lewis lived there for seven years. Another tenant, Misty Bearhill, lived there for just two weeks. She said Thursday she just recently found a place to live after living at a hotel since the fire hit in early September.

Lewis moved in with friends right away, but Bearhill needed the help of the Salvation Army and the Mankato office of the American Red Cross to get by. She's since found a place to live.

"I'm pretty much hanging by a thread," Bearhill said prior to landing housing. She used to have two jobs, but the temporary move to a hotel threw a wrench into her commute setup. She couldn't make it to one of her jobs and ended up losing it.

As for possessions, those are gone. Each tenant who lived there lost just about everything. That's why they're having a benefit on Nov. 17. They're hoping to raise money to hopefully be able to replace some of the belongings.

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