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home : news : news March 26, 2015

2/11/2013 2:23:00 PM
Residents rally to help fire victims
Crews battle a fire that broke out in the early hours of Feb. 2 at a Byron townhome complex. Photo by Keith Garvens
+ click to enlarge
Crews battle a fire that broke out in the early hours of Feb. 2 at a Byron townhome complex.

Photo by Keith Garvens
+ click to enlarge

By David Richards

It looks different now.

Windows are boarded up, a portion is charred black from smoke and two "No Trespassing" signs are prominently placed.

A fire gutted a section of the Valley View Townhomes in Byron on Saturday, Feb. 2.

No one was injured, but eight units were destroyed; eight families displaced.

It broke out at 1:50 a.m.

"I was up with a sleepless baby," said Alisha Garrett, who lives in a different section of Valley View. "I looked out my peripheral vision, and I saw a glow."

Garrett called 9-1-1, but she wasn't the only one.

Byron Fire arrived on scene and through its mutual aid agreement was eventually joined by crews from Kasson and Mantorville.

Roughly 40 firefighters fought the blaze, first from the front door of one of the townhomes and at the top of the stairs, then by way of ladder trucks spraying the flames through the broken out windows.

"Everybody in the whole community came together, and everybody worked well," said fire chief Jeff Thorpe.

Local first responders and Gold Cross Ambulance also arrived, as did deputies from the Olmsted Sheriff's Department.

Thorpe said law enforcement was key in closing Seventh Street for a time so care weren't in danger of running over a firehose.

"The City of Byron is prepared for disasters and for a small community, it's a really good feeling," Thorpe said.

City staff opened City Hall for victims of the fire to stay before Red Cross officials found other accommodations.

"All families were evacuated, and the Red Cross provided lodging to those who didn't go to family or friends' homes," the Red Cross said in a statement. "Red Cross volunteers and chapter staff met with the families to help with ongoing needs like replacing medications, glasses and medical equipment, as well as emergency food and clothing."

The relief effort didn't stop there.

Garrett helped out as well, send out an e-mail asking for help to the Byron Elementary School. That e-mail eventually was sent out to parents' districtwide.

Within a matter of hours, Garrett received more than 40 phone calls offering to help.

Seven of the eight families are in need of items ranging from clothes to furniture to kitchen supplies.

Garrett also needs volunteers who have trucks to pick up some of the larger donated items.

"They have nothing," Garrett said. "Even something as simple as a picture frame. Everything you have in your home, they need."

Money donations can be made to "Valley View Fire Relief" at First Security Bank.

Garrett said one person affected by the first had renter's insurance and declined donations.

As to why she decided to help the victims of the fire, Garrett didn't really have an answer.

"I just never thought of why, it's just what I need to do," she said.

To donate items, Garrett can be reached via e-mail at alishabrowneyesm@gmail.com.


Claremont Service




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