Valentine's Day fire totals Soldotna mobile home

Posted: Thursday, February 15, 2001

A family is showing true heart, pulling together after tragedy struck early Valentine's morning, and is asking the community to do the same.

Dale and Mary Madsen, the parents of a Soldotna woman, along with the woman's grandmother, Cathy Kumpe, are setting up a bank account at Alaska USA Federal Credit Union to receive donations after a trailer fire destroyed the home of their daughter, Jessica Newton, and her husband, Derek, at 715 Martin Avenue around 3 a.m. Wednesday.

"It's something like 99.9 percent gone," fire investigator Jim Vinson said. "There is very little left standing, and what is left standing is nothing but charred remains."

According to investigators, the fire started somewhere in the kitchen area but the investigation is still ongoing. The estimated value of the property lost tallied in at $30,000.

The 22-year-old Derek and 19-year-old Jessica escaped with their two daughters, ages 2 and 4, after the smoke alarm went off in the early morning hours.

"We were in bed and I woke up to the sound of the smoke alarm," Jessica said. "There was smoke burning my nose and I could barely breathe."

The four escaped the fire and injury but watched as their home and their possessions went up in flames.

"Basically everything is gone, nothing was salvageable," Jessica said. "I was wearing a T-shirt, and (Derek) was wearing shorts and that is all."

Newton said that the hardest thing to replace is going to be the memories.

"The photographs are all gone," she said. "Those were our prized possessions."

The account for donations will be at the Alaska USA in Soldotna. Anyone wishing to help can donate to the Newton Family Fund. Anyone wishing to make a clothes donation can do so at Bridges.

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