Bloomer community helps family recover after fire

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EAU CLAIRE, Wis. (WEAU) – A Chippewa County community quickly came together to help a local family who lost their home to a devastating fire.

More than a hundred people showed up in Bloomer Saturday to support a couple and their boy who lost all of their belongings in a blaze last weekend.

“Basically everything we owned was here,” said Amanda Curtis.

Walking through the rubble exactly a week after the fire, Amanda Curtis and Ryan Smetana are thankful they weren't home.

"The fire started in my sons rooms, he is five; I'm very grateful that we weren't there, we weren't in the house," said Curtis.

“They need to live and get on with their lives; they've lost everything. We decided to put a benefit together for them so they have some money until they could figure out what they were going to do,” explained Melissa Prince, Amanda’s mother and the co-organizer of the benefit.

Local businesses donated food, gifts and cash, and finding a place to host the benefit wasn't a problem.

“We can do this, we can help them!” said Shawna Hutton, the co-owner of Next Place Bar and Grill.

The Next Place Bar and Grill brought the community of Bloomer under their roof, with silent auctions, a bean bag tournament and raffles.

“I'm proud of the person here, that’s the biggest thing. In a weeks time what the people in this community have done is absolutely astounding,” said Hutton.

And with help of their families, Ryan, Amanda and Carter have a place to live.

“My youngest daughter lives in an apartment, so she is going to give up everything that she has: the couch, appliances, everything; even some of her clothes, just to make these kids comfortable,” said Prince.

“I'd do anything for family,” said Amanda’s sister Kelsey Prince.

Both Ryan and Amanda said the dreadful reality of the fire is still setting in, but knowing that people around them truly care has made the unexpected journey a little easier.

“There is no word I can say to thank people enough for everything that they have done,” added Curtis.

Curtis said most things are replaceable, but she will most miss the baby books of her son Carter that she forever lost in the flames.

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