Cold winds blew last Nov. 25 as Summer Krueger stood at the stove cooking French fries in hot grease inside her Coon Rapids mobile home.
When she stepped away for a moment to tend to her two small children, fire erupted from the stove and flames flew.
Responding to Krueger’s urgent cries, her boyfriend Matthew Chin scooped up their 21-month-old daughter, wrapped her in a blanket and raced out into the cold night.
Meanwhile, Krueger grabbed their five-year-old girl by the hand and pulled her outside to safety as Coon Rapids firefighters arrived and began battling the blaze.
Despite best efforts, the mobile home was a total loss and almost all the contents were destroyed, according to Fire Inspector Nick House.
“They lost everything. Matt and Summer and the girls were unharmed, but there wasn’t too much that came out of that fire,” House said.
The family are currently living in the basement of Chin’s grandparents’ home in Madison, Wis.
Even though they’ve temporarily re-located so far away, Coon Rapids firefighters wanted to do something to help the family get back on their feet.
“We just wanted to kind of help the family out, give them something,” House said.
And so, on Jan. 21 House and Coon Rapids firefighter Justin McGee took the family on a shopping trip to the Riverdale Walmart store.
Footing the bill for more than $200 worth of clothes and toys, bedding and vital supplies was a fund set up by Coon Rapids Firefighters Local 1935 branch of the International Association of Fire Fighters. In addition, Riverdale Walmart’s store management team donated a $25 gift card to the family.
As Chin and Krueger pushed the shopping cart full of items to their car, House and McGee invited the family to stop by Fire Station 3 for a quick tour.
When they arrived at Station 3, Chin and Krueger and the girls were greeted by Coon Rapids Police Department Community Service Officer Josh Pirkola, who presented them with a car seat from the police department.
“We heard you could use a new car seat, so here you go,” Pirkola said.
The car seat came from the Anoka County Safe Kids stock of safety equipment.
Throughout the evening, the family expressed their gratitude to the firefighters. “I know why firemen give people presents,” Isabella said. “They’re really nice firemen and it’s only if their house burns down.”
“A couple stuff was saved but not my stuffed animals and I miss them a lot. But now I have this one.”
Isabella hugged a new doll she’d selected from Walmart’s toy department.
When asked what it means to be able to help fire victims, House said, “They lost everything and we have the fund money to help, so that means a lot. We’re glad we can do something. It makes it all worthwhile.”
Sue Austreng is at firstname.lastname@example.org