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Woman advocates for safety after fire

Woman advocates for safety after fire Woman advocates for safety after fire
Joey Bowling, Intern, [email protected]

A Lanesville family’s house burned June 24 after a hot spot reignited from a grease fire the day before. The family had been staying in a hotel for the night and were unharmed, but their cat died in the fire.

Homeowner Melissa Lames said she was horrified. She knew there was going to be damage when the first fire caught, but she had expected to be able to return home the next morning.

“It was a horrible experience, I would never wish it on anybody,” Lames said.

The community has rallied for her in the wake of the tragedy. Two of her close friends, Michele Adams and Donita Case, began organizing fundraisers and finding ways to help immediately.

“From that day on, the community support has been heartwarming,” Lames said.

Adams, one of Lames’ close friends, has known her for 2-1/2 decades. She said she’s done fundraisers before, so she wanted to help Adams now. She said she isn’t surprised by the community response, because the Lames are people loved by the community.

“It’s been tragic,” Adams said.

Within three days of the house fire, a fundraiser was planned and executed. The June 28 event, at Uptown Bar, raised about $4,200 for the family in three hours.

“These people reached into their pockets and blessed her,” Adams said.

Case said she still doesn’t know how they pulled it off. About 110 people RSVPed for the event, and about 150 showed up. It wouldn’t have been able to happen without willpower and the owner of Uptown Bar allowing them to use the space.

“Usually when we put a benefit together, we have 30 days to do so,” Case said. “I came up with the idea Thursday, and we made it happen Sunday.”

Lames said the benefit was emotional. She said she almost didn’t go because she felt uncomfortable.

“My husband and I, we’re used to helping people,” Lames said. “We’re not used to being on the other side.”

She said the residents and businesses have also rallied around her in any way they can. The Lanesville Community School Corp. worked to replace her children’s Chromebooks. A funeral home cremated the family cat for free. People from states away have been messaging her and voicing support.

Lames said she is becoming an outspoken advocate about fire safety. She said her family had smoke alarms and escape ladders, although many people don’t, but she didn’t have fire extinguishers. Lames wants her story to start a conversation about it, to help people reconsider how they’re protecting themselves and their family in emergencies.

“It’s given me a purpose,” Lames said.