By Jerome Tharaud/Havre Daily Newsfirstname.lastname@example.org
A fire destroyed a Box Elder family's home and all of its belongings earlier this week.
Allen Parisian, a Rocky Boy police sergeant, said he was sleeping in the bedroom of his Box Elder home about noon Tuesday when his 4-year-old son, Tanner Parisian, ran into the room and yelled that something was burning.
"I remember waking up and seeing black smoke on the ceiling," said Parisian, who had worked the graveyard shift the night before.
Parisian ran into the living room and saw that the couch was burning. He said Tanner started the fire with a disposable lighter that had been in the house.
He called to Teresa Olson, 26, his common-law wife, and they each ran to one of the house's two bathrooms to get water.
When they came back in the room, Parisian said, the living room was engulfed in black smoke.
Parisian said he grabbed his 1-year-old son, Zander, and went out the back door. When he came around the house and saw Olson on the front porch, he realized that Tanner was still inside.
Olson ran into the house to find Tanner, but Rocky Boy resident Randy Belcourt happened to be nearby and acted first.
"About one second later it was like an angel came out of the sky. Randy Belcourt flew right by me and busted one of the bedroom windows open and pulled my boy out the window," Parisian said.
Meanwhile, Olson emerged from the house with singed hair and slight burns on her face. Parisian's other four children were at school at the time of the fire.
There were no other injuries, but the family cat was killed, Parisian said.
John Gardipee of the Rocky Boy Fire Department said firefighters received a call at 12:20 p.m. Tuesday and responded with three vehicles and about 10 firefighters. He said the Box Elder Volunteer Fire Department was already at the scene when his department arrived, and the house was still burning.
The fire was contained, and the department left after about two hours, Gardipee said.
He said the fire burned the living room and roof, and the rest of the house had smoke damage.
"It's pretty much unlivable," he said.
The family is staying with Parisian's brother, Les Parisian, in his three-bedroom house on Rocky Boy's Indian Reservation about a mile from Box Elder.
Allen Parisian said the house was insured by the Chippewa Cree HousingAuthority, which he said will build a new house on the site. The house may not be available for months, he said. In the meantime, the tribe will fix up one of the vacant houses on the reservation for his family. It may take three to four weeks before a house is available, he said.
Les Parisian, who is an in-school-suspension officer at Box Elder School, said teachers at the school have donated two boxes of clothes as well as Kmart cash cards and some furniture to help his brother's family.
"That's what's good about it, that we're such a caring community," Les Parisian said.
Allen Parisian said he has received a $500 check from the Chippewa Cree Tribe's general fund, $750 from risk management, $270 from the American Red Cross and other donations from friends and community members. The Rocky Boy Police Department is also collecting donations for the family, he said.
He said the family will need furniture like dressers and beds.
Bob Nieuwenhuyse, district chair of the Bears Paw District of the American Red Cross, said single-family fires are the most common disaster the district disburses funds for. The amount of aid is determined by national Red Cross guidelines, he said.
About 10 years ago, Allen Parisian lost another home to fire in circumstances similar to Tuesday's fire. Two of his daughters, ages 3 and 4 at the time, had been playing with matches in the living room and lit the couch on fire, Parisian said.
"It's sort of a deja vu thing," he said. He said the house was destroyed and the family lost everything then as well.