Family Lost Home To Fire:Community Steps Up To Help

Family Lost Home To Fire:Community Steps Up To Help

A Vermont family has lost almost everything after an early morning fire in Orange, VT. The family is safe, but the house is destroyed.
ORANGE, Vt.- A Vermont family has lost almost everything after an early morning fire in Orange, VT. The family is safe, but the house is destroyed.
At first glance the front of Susan and John Barnes' home on route 302 in orange seems normal.
But a walk around the back reveals extensive damage from an early morning fire.
“The first thing I thought of was what would they do in this situation if it was somebody else. They would bend over backwards to help everybody, so what can we do to help them,” said family friend, Heidi Otterman-Wilds.
Otterman-Wilds says she's known the Barnes' family almost her entire life.
“They are probably the most giving people in our community,” said Otterman-Wilds.
When news of the fire spread, Otterman-Wilds and friends decided to organize a fundraiser to give back.
“If you talk about the town of orange they are the first people you think of because they are everywhere and they do so much,” said Otterman-Wilds.
“This is still a good community, this is still central Vermont- north central Vermont and we're blessed that way,” said Brian O’Meara, Tri-Village Fire Chief.
O'Meara says the fire was tough to fight.
“It just fought us and fought us and fought us,” said O’Meara.
He says one of the Barnes' four foster kids smelled smoke and alerted the rest of the family.
“You have a structure fire like this in the middle of the night, we've responded to some of these that don't turn out so well, so we are always very pleased when everybody's out and safe,” said O’Meara.
The house will have to be torn down, but soon the family will have a lot less to worry about.
“There has been an out pouring of support - there's community members, family members, people who have never even met them donating. donating time, donating money , donating goods - to them,” said Otterman-Wilds.

As an added twist John is a member of the Tri-Village Fire Department but O'Meara says he did not help fight the fire.
The family was offered a house to stay in temporarily but the community is still looking for donations.
JD Green, a DJ on Froggy 100.9, says he’s collecting monetary donations for the family.
Checks made out to Susan and John Barnes can be sent to Green at the station at 41 Jacques Street, Barre, VT 05641.

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