Family Displaced By Fire Needs More Than Red Cross Help

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A family of five displaced after a fire destroyed the interior of their rental home May 1, needs help getting back on their feet.

“As often happens in house fires, the family is left with nothing but the clothes on their back,” said Red Cross volunteer Kathleen Kelly.

The family, Darold Leneberg, Clairissia Edwards, who is eight months pregnant, Matthew, 3, Gabrial, 5, and William, 2, lost everything in the early morning blaze, barely getting out with their lives.

“I walked through what was left of the destruction of the house with Fire Marshal Robert Lockhart and you could not even recognize the charcoal scorched pictures left on the walls,” Kelly said.

Matthew admitted to fire investigators that he was playing with matches when the fire started in his lower bunk bed. When the fire broke out, Matthew and Gabrial went into a bathroom that connected with their parents’ bedroom.

Edwards woke up and spotted the boys in the bathroom with a fire roaring behind them. Leneberg grabbed the two boys while Edwards woke William, who was still sleeping next to the boys’ bunk bed, and rushed outside, escaping injury.

Firefighters put the fire out before it spread to the outside of the home, however, the interior was badly damaged by flames and smoke.

While most of the family’s possessions were destroyed, one item survived unscathed.

Kelly explained that while she was comforting the family outside the home, their grandfather walked out of the home holding a picture close to his chest. 

“As the parents were telling me how they felt blessed that they all got out safely, the grandfather walked out with a picture. It was a picture of Christ completely untouched by fire or smoke.

“This will be the first thing that they hang in the next place they find to live and will be a cherished family treasure,” she said.

The Red Cross put the family up at the Best Western Payson Inn for a few nights and the family’s church donated money to keep them there through the weekend. The family has no place to go and is looking for a place to live.

Anyone interested in donating money so the family can stay at the Best Western until they find a new home, can call the inn at (928) 474-3241.

The family also needs clothing immediately and household supplies when they find a new place to live.

You can deliver donations, furniture, clothing, and supplies to Cathy Leneberg’s home, 404 W. Jones St., to be kept until the family finds a place to live. The family’s immediate needs are men’s jeans sizes 36 to 34, newborn clothes and diapers, boys shoes sizes 11-12, 10-11 and 6-7.

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