A local veterans advocate said he is thankful for the amount of community support he's received since his home was destroyed in a May 3 fire.
Herb Stettler, a chaplin and service officer for Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 10046, said a gracious friend has offered to let him stay in a spare bedroom in Soldotna after a fire consumed about 27 feet of his 50 foot trailer home on Tustumena Lake Road in Kasilof.
"Things are really coming along for me," Stettler said. "I feel great about it."
Dan Nelson, board president for Emergency Services Incorporated, a local organization of firefighters and emergency medical services personnel, said the group and other community members have taken up the cause to help Stettler.
Nelson said there are plans in the works to haul Stettler's trailer off the property and build him a new cabin.
"It was obviously a bad loss for him, someone that's in his 80s and doing all that is a tough thing to come back from," Nelson said.
"We decided he had given a lot to his community and we could give this back to him."
Said Stettler, "They offered to do it and I thought, 'Well, God bless you gentlemen.'"
Stettler is a Korean War veteran and served in the Army. He now serves in a variety of community and veteran support positions.
Stettler said he was able to save several important things from the blaze including his Bible that was only "singed," important pictures and his blazer, boots, pants and other items he uses for ceremonies at the VFW.
"Before the fire truck got there a guy come running up the lane and said, 'Are you alright?'" he said. "I said yes and he said, 'You better get out.' I said, 'Well as soon as I get these good clothes out.' So he stood out the door, I threw them to him and he threw them another 10 feet."
Stettler said he is overwhelmed with the support he's recieved.
"There was several that came out from the VFW yesterday and the day before and we did a lot of clean up around," he said. "I've been getting a lot of help. God is good."
Nelson said ESI is receiving and disbursing all donations made to Stettler through a community service fund, as well as coordinating in-kind services provided by local companies.
Those interested in donating to the rebuilding can go to www.esialaska.org for further information and to donate. A fund has also been set up at First National Bank of Alaska for donations. The account number is 70670096. Donations can also be dropped off at CES Station 1 in Soldotna.
Brian Smith can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.