MANKATO — Two fires in recent weeks displaced families in rural Mankato and North Mankato, prompting donation drives to support them.
Monday’s fire forced Kalli Koepp and Adam Stier out of their North Mankato residence. One of their two dogs died in the fire, and a GoFundMe organized Tuesday has raised more than $1,600 so far.
Clint and Beth Eaton lost their home and dog to a Thanksgiving Eve fire. A GoFundMe started for them on Nov. 28 has brought in more than $17,000.
Along with the GoFundMe, a recent clothing drive and Friday sloppy joe dinner benefit at the North Mankato American Legion will go toward the Eatons. After losing just about everything, Clint Eaton said the assistance has been amazing.
“It was a godsend because we wouldn’t be able to buy furniture and clothes and everything you need,” he said. “We’re starting from scratch.”
The Eatons plan to rent a place in North Mankato until they can rebuild the rural Mankato home. The investigation into the fire’s cause is ongoing, but Clint Eaton said the fire marshal indicated an electrical issue was likely the cause.
Clint Eaton came home over his lunch hour the day of the fire to let out their dog, Izzy. Hours later, the 8-year-old rescue pet was the first thing on his mind when a neighbor called saying the house was on fire.
“She was part of the family,” Clint Eaton said of Izzy. “My wife and I and the kids are all distraught.”
The Eatons now have an urn with Izzy’s ashes in their rental property. They and their two children plan to find a permanent resting place once their property is cleared.
The fire also claimed Eaton’s guitars, putting his upcoming gigs with the Rain Kings band in jeopardy. Two of his bandmates and a close friend, however, surprised him with a new acoustic guitar.
“We were meeting together just to have a beer after work,” Eaton said. “ … It was actually a ruse to get me there to give me a new guitar. I was speechless.”
He and the Rain Kings will play Friday at the Circle Inn after the 5 p.m. American Legion benefit concludes. The Circle Inn, a common venue for the Rain Kings, organized the clothing drive.
Monday’s fire at 503 Monroe Ave. in North Mankato broke out in the afternoon. The residents weren’t home when it started, North Mankato Fire Chief Dan Giefer said.
The fire was contained to the kitchen but there was smoke damage throughout the single-family home, Giefer said. A dog, Cooper, died in the fire, which remains under investigation.
One day after the fire, a GoFundMe started taking donations for the residents. Koepp, Stier and Stier’s son lived at the address, according to the GoFundMe.
A second dog, Harper, survived the fire but needed medical treatment. An update posted on the GoFundMe Tuesday stated the dog is doing well.
For more information on the fundraiser for Koepp and Stier, go to GoFundMe.com.
Staff Reporter Kristine Goodrich contributed to this report.