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Valley News Dispatch

Fundraiser to help victims of Freeport apartment building fire

Chuck Biedka
| Thursday, July 12, 2018, 1:54 p.m.
A July 3 fire in Freeport destroyed an apartment building and an adjoining house.
A July 3 fire in Freeport destroyed an apartment building and an adjoining house.

When Kelly Guenther and her daughter went to the store last week to get items for a July 4 recipe, she had no idea her life was about to change.

Soon, Guenther’s husband, Brian, urgently telephoned to tell her about a fire in the Market Street apartment building right next door.

“He told me they’d (firefighters) better hurry,” she said.

Brian Guenther, an operating engineer, made sure his two sons and their dog were safely outside.

By the end of the evening, their house of 10 years was burned and there was a lot of water damage. The fate of their house remains unknown and the family of five — three children, both parents and a dog — is temporarily staying in a Harmar hotel.

“We don’t know if the house can be repaired or if it’s a total loss,” Guenther said.

Three other families lost their homes and belongings in the July 3 apartment building in addition to the Guenthers. A total of 14 people were displaced by the fire.

The Guenthers had insurance. Not all of the others did.

“You never think this is going to happen to you,” Guenther said.

So, the displaced families hope a spaghetti dinner fundraiser on Sunday can help to soften the blow.

The all-you-can-eat dinner will be from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. at the South Buffalo Fire Hall.

Organizers still are looking for volunteers and donations for Chinese auction items and gift baskets.

Monetary donations also can be made at the benefit, said community activist Jackie Davis Gaughan.

“We are trying to get about $10,000 — $2,500 for each of the four families — to help them start over,” she said.

Guenther said her grandmother’s china has been put in bubble wrap and will need restoration. Almost everything else is gone.

Most of the family photos are water damaged, she said.

“I don’t know how they can fix it, but we’ll have to see,” said Guenther, a Kiski Area High School grad.

If they can’t move back into their house, the family will look elsewhere in the Freeport Area School District, she said.

“We really like the schools and the people,” she said.

Chuck Biedka is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Chuck at 724-226-4711, cbiedka@tribweb.com or via Twitter @ChuckBiedka.

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