Family hopes to rebuild home that fire destroyed

Published 12:00 am Monday, June 1, 1998

By Leonard Gray / L’Observateur / June 1, 1998

LAPLACE – For Elaine Stutes, life in her motor home is no picnic. In fact,it’s hard getting up every morning, stepping outside and seeing the burned remains of your home and knowing the nightmare continues.

The yard of her home at 2105 Longwood Drive is now dominated by a half- filled trash dumpster loaded with debris. The May 15 fire which gutted herhouse forced out her and her three teen-agers, with virtually nothing but the clothes on their backs.

Admittedly, they have some help. The First Baptist Church of LaPlacebrings food on a daily basis, since the family has no way to store much of any frozen or refrigerated food.

“They’ve been wonderful, she said.

It all began at about 9:30 p.m. that day. Her daughter, Belinda, 13, wasloading the dishwasher. Suddenly, she smelled smoke. Quickly, she dashedto the apparent source, the master bedroom.

Throwing open the door, she spotted a bedside lamp on fire. Before herhorrified eyes, the fire ignited the nearby mattress and the fight to extinguish the blaze was on.

Stutes’ companion, Clyde Madere, joined Belinda in throwing water on the fire, but the fumes from the blaze forced them back, and they snatched handfuls of what belongings they could grab.

Within nine minutes the LaPlace Volunteer Fire Department was at the scene and saved the structure of the house. However, most of thesheetrock was damaged or destroyed, the carpet and tile were completely destroyed and most of their belongings were either destroyed or smoke- damaged, including a new $85 jacket bought for Belinda as a Christmas present.

The children, including William, 16, and James, 16, are staying with either friends or family, leaving Clyde and Elaine struggling to reclaim and restore what they can. Their resources are limited because there was nofire insurance on the house.

“I’ve got plenty of free labor,” Madere said. “What I need are materials.”They received some initial assistance from the American Red Cross and from their church, but they still dream of cleaning and moving back into their home of 19 years. He, however, is retired on a disability pension andshe is a lupus patient.

They welcome all the assistance, monetary as well as donations of building supplies. Donations of cash can be made to a fund set up at theBank of LaPlace. Otherwise, phone 652-4177.”Luckily, we were home,” Stutes commented, “or we’d have lost everything.”

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