Family escapes devastating house fire

By Colleen Truelsen
Osawatomie Graphic – April 8, 2015

Photo by Colleen Truelsen.

Photo by Colleen Truelsen.

Kelly Styles, home just a few days with a newborn son and with two other children asleep in their room, woke just before 2 a.m. April 1 to feed her baby and saw smoke rolling into her bedroom.
“I smell smoke, I can barely breathe,” she told her husband, Aaron.
“Okay, take the baby and get out,” he said.
Kelly and the baby escaped through the back of the house, but flames blocked Aaron from his sleeping 10- and 4-year-old boys, Keith and Dale.
He ran around the house, broke out the front bedroom window and pulled the boys out through that window.
“He was a hero in this deal,” Fire Chief Brian Love said later. Their home at 833 Brown Ave. was engulfed in flames when fire crews arrived.
They lost all of their possessions. Family dogs Beau and Rooster died inside the home. Hermes, a muli-colored orange, black and white cat, apparently escaped the fire but cannot be found.
“He is probably going to be a stray forever,” Kelly’s sister, Kylie Bove, said.
Lost mementos
Bove relayed the story on behalf of the family, who she said is staying with her and family members in La Cygne while they look for a new home.
“Today,” Bove said Friday, “things got a little bit more normal.
“For mom, it’s a little tougher” she said. “The baby books are gone, all the pictures of the kids are gone, then you remember something and it hits you all over again. Keith had a birthday a few weeks back, all his toys are gone.
“Dad is pretty stoic,” she added. “He is more like ‘We’ve got to keep going, we’ve got to do what we’ve got to do.’”
Love said the fire apparently started from a plastic laundry tote that was sitting on a floor furnace.
“The dogs may have knocked it there,” he said.
Both parents work, mom part-time at Moon’s Hometown Market and dad at Lakemary Center.
Seeking shelter
Finding a home they can afford is proving challenging, Bove said.
“They can afford about $425 a month,” she said, “and they are committed to saying in Osawatomie.”
A one-car family, Kelly walks to work at Moon’s, Bove said, so an Osawatomie home is critical.
Finding a rental home at that amount is proving to be a problem, she said.
“If there is anyone in this town who can help this family,” she said, “they don’t want to have to move.
“After all the outpouring of support they’ve had from the community,” she said, “they are even more committed to staying here.”
Part of that support is a Go Fund Me website started by store manager Amanda Moon.
“Kelly works for me as a closing manager part-time at Moon’s, and Aaron just got a brand new job working the weekend graveyard shift,” Moon wrote on the donation site.
“To lose everything is something no one should have to go through,” she wrote. “They need all the help they can get. Let’s help them get back on their feet.”
‘Fantastic’ support
An abundance of clothing has already come in, Bove said, to the point where they are now sorting and bundling extra donations to pass along to local charity stores.
“It’s been amazing,” she said. “Vineyard of Hope and a Methodist group started collecting items and making drop-offs. It was fantastic … There is a tremendous amount of support.
“My sister and her family are not tremendously social,” she added. “Other than wave in passing, they hadn’t talked to neighbors, but the neighbors opened up their homes without hesitation.”
Bove said Kelly’s former job gets her recognized as “Oh, that’s the girl at Casey’s.”
The family has tubs of clothing for the baby and for the boys, though Kelly is still in need.
“We appreciate everything coming in,” Bove said, “but we’re nervous when people get paid they will go out and purchase things. Go Fund Me, that’s pretty helpful for money we need so we can get them into a house, pay the deposits and get furniture.
“If there is anything anyone can do to help us find affordable housing, maybe a landlord who can make an exception on the rent and let them get back on their feet, that’s what they need now.”



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