Archive for Saturday, February 12, 2011

Fire destroys belongings, but not spirit, of family thanks to generosity of others

February 12, 2011


Jason Dye holds his burned guitar while his fiancee, Tracy Cordray, background, looks for salvageable items inside their trailer Thursday. Their home was destroyed Tuesday in a fire at Gaslight Village.

Jason Dye holds his burned guitar while his fiancee, Tracy Cordray, background, looks for salvageable items inside their trailer Thursday. Their home was destroyed Tuesday in a fire at Gaslight Village.

Fire displaces Lawrence family

Jason Dye and Tracy Cordray and her four children -- Amethyst Travelbee, 16; Amber Travelbee, 15; Jismon Travelbee, 11; and Jaison Travelbee, 7 -- lost their home in a fire Tuesday at Gaslight Village. Enlarge video

Benefit fund

The Cordray/Travelbee Benefit Fund has been established at Douglas County Bank to collect donations for Jason Dye, Tracy Cordray and Cordray’s four children.

Donations may be made at any Douglas County Bank location. Checks also may be made out to the fund and mailed to the bank at 300 W. Ninth St., Lawrence, KS 66044-0429.

Jason Dye faced a handgun at his head a few months ago, when robbed at work.

Then he lost his next job, a week before Christmas, and his fiancee was in the hospital for a week with pneumonia.

Now he’s picking through rubble after a fire Tuesday destroyed his fiancee’s trailer home, incinerating all but a drawer filled with kids’ underwear and the contents of a jewelry box, including $39 cash given to his soon-to-be 11-year-old stepdaughter for her birthday.

So why is this guy smiling?

“Everyone’s OK,” he said after pulling out a scorched Fender Stratocaster guitar he’d had since age 16. The twang from a remaining string is far from melodic. “Everyone’s OK. And I’m telling everyone, ‘We’re all getting a fresh new chance.’”

That new chance begins this weekend. Dye and his fiancee, Tracy Cordray, are moving into Heatherwood Apartments with Cordray’s four children through a previous relationship: Amethyst, Amber, Jismon and Jaison Travelbee.

Their belongings may be gone, but the generosity of friends, family and community organizations, schools and businesses have helped them move on.

No matter how dark things may appear — their former home and belongings charred, their employment picture bleak, their financial future hinging on an expected tax refund — the family won’t be staying at Holiday Inn Lawrence anymore now that they’ve just secured a 12-month lease for a three-bedroom, two-bathroom apartment.

“That’s such a relief: To have a place where these kids can stay,” Dye said. “It’s such a relief. I’m the happiest guy on the planet.”

The fire Tuesday evening engulfed Cordray’s trailer home at Gaslight Village Mobile Home Park, 1900 W. 31st, soon after Dye attempted to restore water flow through frozen pipes. Authorities cited “improper use of an open flame device” as the cause of the blaze, although Dye says he merely had been trying to knock ice away from the pipes below the trailer when a spark, perhaps, ignited insulation.

He’d spent the next five minutes or so pulling out pieces of the “glowing” insulation, Dye said, and he’s still self-treating burns on the knuckles of his right hand.

Soap. Water. Ointment.

“It’s OK,” he said.

Before long, the trailer — the one he and Cordray had been 10 months away from paying off — was destroyed. Neither she nor the previous owner had insurance, leaving a loss estimated at $21,000, unable to be recovered.

“For the first time in my life, I’d felt like I had some security,” Cordray said. “Now it’s gone.”

Still, the family moves on. The children have replacement book bags and supplies, thanks to counselors at Broken Arrow School and Lawrence High School. The Lawrence school district helped with clothing and other necessities. The Red Cross financed shelter at the hotel, and provided money for some necessities. The list goes on.

Dye can’t thank people enough. The family has a benefit fund set up at Douglas County Bank, and the goal is to thank each donor individually.

“I’ve had to start over before in my life,” said Dye, who, at age 25, already has driven trucks, worked fast food and loaded trailers for a living. “This is a chance for us to do that. You can reinvent yourself.”


wichitagtf66 7 years, 2 months ago

wichitagtf66 (anonymous) says…

Once again I would like to thank everyone who has helped us in our time of need from the LFD,LPD, the red cross, LHS, broken arrow elementary, the glover harris family, astate managment company, ballard center, social services, mark at ljwworld, channel six news, everyone at gaslight village (we love u lauri), Susan at hprp, lawrence social services and anyone I am forgetting that has already helped us. We are so foutante and blessed to have people looking out for my family and standing up for us. If anyone we like to donate. Please contact the douglass county bank at 300 w 9th st. 865-1000 the name of the donation account is the cordray/Travelbee benifit account. Thank u all so much god bless our great country and god bless each and everyone of us.


FloridaSunshine 7 years, 2 months ago

Blessings to you and your family. This has been a rough row to hoe, especially for your children, but I know they will be stronger, more compassionate adults as a result of what they have experienced. They are incredible!! I'm in love with your 15-year-old...she is a precious gem! They have certainly learned what compassion, as opposed to indifference is, thanks to this community. The caring people always come forward in matters such as this...and it's good to see that the community of Lawrence has done that. We all can do a whole lot more. I told your 15-year-old daughter my prayers and love are going straight from my heart to her heart...and I mean that for each of you. I will hold your family in my heart and in my prayers and continue doing what I can to help. I know many members of this community are doing the same. BLESSINGS as you all make this new start...the wonderful part in all of this is that you have each other. I am sure you all realize that!!!

Erin Graham 7 years, 2 months ago

The cards you have been dealt are ones many would crumble under. But in the darkness of it all, God has granted you something incredibly incredibly amazing- humbleness, strength and a sense of compassion and love. Those are things that can never be taken away. The spirit of you and your family is such an inspiration to us all.
I wish the best to you all and will be keeping your family in my thoughts and prayers!

sourpuss 7 years, 2 months ago

I am glad everyone was all right. Everyone who rents or owns should endeavor to afford at least some basic property insurance. It seems like an unnecessary expense, but if you need it, you will be happy to have it. Often, it is not as expensive as it seems.

Good luck with your rebuilding!

FlintlockRifle 7 years, 2 months ago

Sounds like this guy has his head on straight, the kids are getting a great new dad---

commenter 7 years, 2 months ago

This comment was removed by the site staff for violation of the usage agreement.

Commenting has been disabled for this item.