The Glasgow Courier - Serving Proudly As The Voice Of Valley County Since 1913

By Bonnie Davidson
The Courier 

Fire Story

Victim Reflects, Moves On After Family Loses Home

 

Frank & Linda Vargo / For The Courier

Brandon Brunelle, Glasgow Fire Department chief and a member of the Long Run Fire Department, sprays down what's left of the Holter home after a blaze destroyed it Saturday.

The supposed day of unluck came and went and nothing extraordinary happened for a local family. Saturday, March 14, came and the family went on with their normal daily activities. Becky Holter was at home taking a nap on the couch, while the rest of her family, Curt, Mariah and Roland, were all out at different places.

When Becky got up from the couch and headed to the kitchen she saw the smoke coming from the window. She said she quickly went to the door where the water heater was and opened it up to look under the trailer. She could see the flames. She ran outside, without her shoes on and tried to pry away the skirting from the trailer and turn the garden hose onto the flames. Unfortunately, there was no water pressure and only a drizzle came out of the spigot.

"I could have put it out at first if there was water; it was only small flames," Becky said.

She rushed back into the house to try and find her cell phone. The flames continued to grow. She said she ran back into the house four or five times to find the cell phone, which she later found sitting on the barbecue. The last time she entered into the house she fell through the floor and that's when she knew she couldn't go back in. The heat caused blisters on her bare foot and on her hand where she tried to pry open the trailer skirting.

The call was reported into dispatch just a few minutes before 4 p.m. She told dispatch her house on 266 Cutacross Road was on fire, everyone had made it out. Luckily the dogs made it out, and the family believes that all the cats made it out too, but they haven't come back around just yet. Dispatch contacted the utility companies while a deputy and the fire departments were paged to the scene. Becky said after she got off the phone she yelled, "Somebody please help," and the panic kind of set in.

When the deputy arrived, he reported seeing flames out the bottom and the sides of the trailer. He also reported that the propane tank was about 20 yards from the house and the fire was moving downwind towards that direction.

Saint Marie Fire Department responded along with the Long Run Fire Department. One of the deputies reported a subject was checked out at the scene for smoke inhalation, and Becky said that after she was asked a few times she finally was checked out by the ambulance personnel for her still bare feet and hand. Becky said that by the time the fire departments made it to the scene, in about 20 minutes and the trailer was already covered in flames. She didn't think the house would go up so fast.

Roland was out on motorcycles and saw the black smoke; that's how he found out the home was burning down. Curt didn't hear his phone ring as he was out on a skid steer trying to fix the roads. He saw the black smoke rising as well and came down to find out that the smoke was coming from his home. Mariah called home to see if she could go out to a movie. When she was told to come home right away she didn't know what was going on until she reached the scene.

Becky called the neighbors and told them to check their home for fire before coming to the scene as well. While they watched the fire, Courier Saint Marie correspondents Frank and Linda Vargo arrived and reported that the family was in fairly good spirits considering they were watching their whole home and everything go up in smoke. The Vargos commented that Becky joked about where the marshmallows were.

Ammunition and guns in the home started to go off and Becky said that fireworks that were stored in a room also went off as the flames took over. Later the family was surprised at the random things the fire left behind, a tea cup, miniature furniture from a doll house and a copper social security card, Becky said that's the last thing she has of her mother's. Everything else – family heirlooms, furniture that was just purchased, a laptop, crochet supplies and newly bought groceries – went up in smoke as the flames consumed them. The family had no insurance on the trailer. The fire departments suspected the fire was caused by electrical problems.

After the fire crews left around 8 p.m., Becky said Curt went back to check the hot spots throughout the night. Curt has just recently retired from working for the Valley County Road Department. Becky works for The Glasgow Courier. Roland and Mariah go to Glasgow High School. What the family didn't expect was the outpouring that has come from the community.

"I'm a very proud person. I don't want to accept charity. It's just not right," Becky said.

She explained she was told to just suck it up because people want to give to her and to just accept what has been offered.

Donations came pouring in the day after the fire. The family has received clothes, and some household items that will help them get back on their feet. A Go Fund Me account has been set up in their name at http://www.gofundme.com/holter, where as of print time $3,500 had been donated. The goal is to raise $10,000 to help come up with more permanent housing for the family that has found temporary housing until they find another trailer.

Donation cans have been set up at both Ezzie's locations in Glasgow and The Courier has taken in donations as well. Most donations have gone to the old Flick's building next to Western Drug in Glasgow.

"It's so overwhelming, it's just overwhelming with the support we've gotten from the town," Becky said.

Becky said that they've gone to the Red Cross, which will be able to help more when they find permanent housing. They'll help them with groceries and maybe some of those bigger items that were lost. For the moment, they don't have a refrigerator to hold groceries, something that a community member said they were working on to purchase and donate for them.

The trailer that was lost held all those sentimental items that some take for granted. There were photos, and in the Holters' case, fiddles that Curt would play with his family, and a guitar that Mariah played. Becky said that the trailer was moved to the location when Mariah was just a year old, and she said that as she watched Mariah pick up stones from the scene she realized that 17 years had passed.

Mariah wrote on her Facebook page, "Thank you ALL for everything everyone is doing for our family, the help is so wonderfully appreciated. For everyone who helped with the aftermath, God is providing immensely for us, especially in this wonderful community."

To help the family, call Becky at 406-263-1002, Curt at 260-1003 or Sylvia Little at 263-7444.

 

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