By Tim Leeds
The hard part of finding a new home and furniture has now started, but Jeanie Cole said things could have been much worse.
"Now that the shock has wore off, I realize how lucky we are, my son and I," she said today.
Cole's son, Drew, a premed student at the University of Montana in Missoula, was home for a visit when a fire started by a candle severely damaged Cole's home early Wednesday morning.
"I'm a believer," Jeanie Cole said. "I believe in God, and I think he was watching over me."
She said Drew woke during the fire, which started in his upstairs room, and was able to get them both outside.
"I think the only thing he was thinking of was getting me out of there," she said.
The help she has received, during the fire and from organizations like the Red Cross and the Salvation Army, has been wonderful, Cole said. The Red Cross organized a relief effort, and the Salvation Army is paying for her motel room for the rest of the week while she organizes her efforts to find a new home.
The firefighters saved her cat, Kutty, and her bird, Tweets, while containing the fire. Her dog, Echo, left the house with her.
"Boy, I tell you, those firemen were beautiful people," she said. "I want those firemen to know I'm really grateful. Those are really special people."
Cole said her main needs now are finding a place to live and furniture to put in it.
Cole rented the house in the 1300 block of Fifth Street and didn't have rental insurance. She said she had an application form for insurance but hadn't finished filling it out.
It's a tough time to find a place, she said, especially since she has to keep working at her job at Title Cash.
The furniture in the house wasn't salvageable, she said, although she saved most of her clothes.
"We got pretty much all of it out, but it's froze," she said. "It's in the closet, but it's froze."
Friends are helping her get her clothing laundered.
Cole said Drew keeps telling her to think about how lucky they were, and not to concentrate on what she's lost.
"To him, it's junk," she said. "To me it's years of special memories, but I still have the memories. My son said, Mom, think of it as a new beginning.'"
For more information about Cole's needs for housing, and furniture and other items, call the Bear's Paw District of the Red Cross at 265-1500.