Alan Sorensen Havre Daily News firstname.lastname@example.org
An open window, a flapping curtain and a nearby candle combined to level a Washington Avenue mobi le home Wednesday morning, leaving a young Havre family homeless today. Marques Chapman and Tiffaney Niehoff and their three young children sons Dashawn, 3, and Quencit, 2, and daughter Mauryonna, 11 months were home when the fire broke out and escaped uninjured. “Everything is gone,” Niehoff said in a telephone interview Wednesday afternoon. “Furniture, clothes, toys, everything.” The Salvation Army stepped in and arranged for the family to stay at a local motel until Monday. Then they will have to find another place to stay while they put their lives back together. Niehoff and Chapman didn’t have renters insurance. “I didn’t even know about (renters insurance) until today,” she said. Niehoff said the fire was so hot it broke out the windshield and blackened the front end of her car parked in the driveway. “The whole passenger side is pretty lit up,” she said. Havre Fire Chief Dave Sheppard said the fire destroyed half of the trailer at 1614 Washington Ave. And caused considerable smoke and heat damage to the other half. He confirmed that the fire started when a curtain came in contact with a lit candle on an end table. Firefighters responded to the 10:25 a. m. call, had the fire out before 11 a.m. and remained at the scene until 12:50 p.m. extinguishing hot spots. Firefighters were called back to the scene at 3:23 p.m. by a call from a person in the area who said hot spots were starting to reignite. They found a small piece of insulation and a small piece of wood smoking in the living room area. Niehoff said she was doing her regular morning chores when her oldest child told her of the fire. Chapman, who works nights at Kmart, was in the bathroom at the time. “We were all at home,” she said. “I was getting ready to put Dashawn on the bus. He is a Head Start student. It’s our ritual routine every morning. “I had a candle lit and a window was kind of behind the candle and the wind caught too much and caught my curtains and couch on fire,” she said. “Then Dashawn, I was in the back room folding laundry, came and got me. “The couch was on fire. I hauled the kids out. My husband, Marques, helped get the kids out. I went back in a tried to put (a large casserole dish of) water on (the fire) but it just spread, and I went down and called 911 from a neighbor’s house because the phone was out. “We didn’t have a fire extinguisher And the smoke alarm didn’t go off.” The homes on the north and south sides of their home were undamaged. Lani ta Hoskinson, a friend of Niehoff’s, is coordinating a benefit drive for the family. So far, the family received towels, diapers and toys from a friend of Niehoff’s mother and all the clothes they have they received from the Salvation Army. This morning, Niehoff was clad in a T-shirt, sweat pants and shoes and the children wore pajamas, all courtesy of the charitable organization. “People who want to donate items, they can either do it at my phone number, 265-4064, or at (Niehoff’s) mother’s, 808- 1296,” Hoskinson said. She said people can also donate cash to the recovery fund at U.S. Bank. The account is in Niehoff’s mother’s name, Dana Cleavenger, because Niehoff didn’t have any idenfication it, too, was destroyed in the blaze.