Indian Lake comes to rescuePublished 10:05pm Tuesday, December 20, 2011
It’s going to take more than a devastating fire to shake four children’s belief in holiday spirit when Santa Claus aboard an Indian Lake firetruck brings them toys Christmas Eve.
A fire eight days before Christmas destroyed their home and left the family of six homeless, nothing left but the clothes on their back.
Their unemployed father had tried to change out the malfunctioning basement furnace, but diesel fuel leaked onto the floor.
The blaze consumed the structure so quickly the floor fell in.
Fuel floated atop the water firefighters sprayed and kept re-igniting.
Holiday spirit spread just as rapidly as flames, however.
Touched firefighters talked about reaching out to Toys for Tots so the kids could salvage Christmas.
Quickly, the community west of Dowagiac rallied around the family, including Frese Discount, which presented the family with clothing.
The children are a 4-year-old girl, a 5-year-old boy, a 7-year-old boy and an 8-year-old girl.
“They’re young enough, we didn’t want them to suffer,” Fire Chief Bryan Huggins said Tuesday. Huggins, chief since 2009 and part of the 42-member department since May 1993, said that although the family was struggling, the father helped build their station.
As the relief effort began to roll, other businesses, including C. Wimberley and Timberline, reached out with donations of food, clothing and gifts, including $200 for Christmas dinner chipped in by Buchanan Township firefighters.
Huggins said Red Cross lodged the family three days at Baymont, then they were expected to stay with relatives until they can find a new residence.
Indian Lake’s fire station at 33104 Old M-62 West is unmanned, but checked frequently, Huggins said.
Anyone wanting to make a contribution should call him at (269) 414-2257 or the station at (269) 782-2026 and leave a message so arrangements can be made.
“The parents are more worried about their kids than themselves,” Huggins said. “We’ve never helped to this extent before. We just wanted to set a good example, to make sure these kids have a good Christmas and have something to believe in.”