Archive for Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Fire leaves resident without a home again

‘Gather up what I can and move forward’

Lawrence resident Ben Allen discovers on Wednesday that his golf clubs survived a fire that destroyed his mobile home. His piano, at left, and most of his other belongings were a total loss in the Feb. 13 blaze at 1908 E. 19th St. He did not have insurance.

Lawrence resident Ben Allen discovers on Wednesday that his golf clubs survived a fire that destroyed his mobile home. His piano, at left, and most of his other belongings were a total loss in the Feb. 13 blaze at 1908 E. 19th St. He did not have insurance.

February 18, 2009

Advertisement

Fire leaves resident homeless again

A Lawrence musician is homeless after a fire destroyed his home last week. Enlarge video

Ben Allen stood inside his mobile home that was totaled by fire last week.

Burnt insulation hung from the roof of the home. A basket of melted clothes sat on the floor, and a shiny BB gun peeked out from under the ash-covered floor.

Very little was recognizable amid the soot, though it was easy to make out the large piano in the center of his living room and an organ a few feet away.

“This was the last thing that I wanted to happen,” said Allen, 48.

While it was difficult for the Lawrence musician to see his destroyed belongings, he said all he could do now was look forward.

“It’s going to be a matter of starting over,” he said.

Allen purchased the mobile home at 1908 E. 19th St. two years ago. He said it was a “stepping stone” in his life, a move that brought him out of a period of homelessness. Now, Friday’s fire has left him homeless yet again.

Allen came to Lawrence from Montana and plans on staying in the community.

“I’m not going to let it be the end of my life; I’m going to go on and that’s about all I can do,” he said. “Gather up what I can and move forward.”

Allen, who doesn’t have a car, carries around a badly burned bag from place to place. When returning to the remains of his home on Wednesday afternoon, he grabbed a cherished set of golf clubs from among the rubble.

Fire investigators haven’t determined the cause of the mobile home fire, which they said caused about $15,000 damage. Allen suspects it may have been arson because of past criminal activity around his property.

He did not have insurance to cover his belongings and said his top priority was to find some steady income. Until now, he’s been able to support himself with piano gigs around town.

Currently he’s staying at a local hotel and plans to stay with friends for a while.

Allen said he turned down assistance from the Douglas County Chapter of the American Red Cross, feeling someone else might need emergency services more badly than he does.

“I’m resourceful and I’m intelligent, and I’ll figure out some way to get past this,” he said. “It’s not going to be an overwhelming blockade for me; I’m not going to let it be.”

Comments

Paul Geisler 6 years, 4 months ago

What a very positive attitude despite such a hardship! I hope that kind of spirit will help him get past this considerable set-back! I for one will throw a nice tip in his jar if I hear him playing piano somewhere around town.

KSChick1 6 years, 4 months ago

Take the help from the Red Cross, Really. You deserve the help!!!!

spankyandcranky 6 years, 4 months ago

What a great attitude. I personally have found that people from the Northwest, in general, seem to be more independent, self-motivated and resourceful. I wonder why?

Buggie7 6 years, 4 months ago

I have also gone through a fire and its rough. Look at it this way you can at least use golf as a stress reliever since the clubs made it through. My best wishes to you through this hard time. SRS can give you a list of community aid for fire victims and other disasters call them it was a huge help and the red cross was wonderful but I know that right now from what I understand their resources are low.

woodenfleaeater 6 years, 4 months ago

My "Caution! Flammable!" sign would look better here as well.

Commenting has been disabled for this item.