Fire department arrives

The home destroyed Friday night as firefighters from the Seward Fire Department arrive.

The Oct. 21 house fire that claimed the Third Avenue home of Kyle Sharpe, his wife Vili Angelova, and their nine-month-old baby Isabella also incinerated every last possession they held, from their car to their clothes to their cell phones. Fortunately, all unhurt, the family escaped the inferno with only minutes to spare, but they’re now left with the challenge of rebuilding their lives from the embers of their lost property. Though naturally devastated, Sharpe noted that the loss was minimal when compared to the safety of his family.

“It sucks to lose your stuff,” he said, “but I’d burn it all twice over to make sure they were okay.”

Sharpe shared his account of the disaster with the Journal and expressed his gratitude to the community for its support in the aftermath.

“It was 7:30; Vili was showering,” he said. “I was already in my pajamas. I was changing my daughter, getting ready to put her in her pajamas. Our room is right next to the patio. It shares a window with the patio. I had heard popping sounds and some shouting, and I assumed it was just kids outside in the street.”

Because he wanted to be sure, Sharpe went outside to confirm his assumption, only to be met by a rapidly spreading blaze on his deck.

“I immediately shut the door, pulled Vili out of the shower, grabbed the kid,” he said. “I told them to run downstairs and get out because I was going to try to get the keys to the car, but I couldn’t see them, so I ran down after them.”

By now the fire had completely engulfed the deck and spread to the building.

“I had to push them out of the front door because the deck was burning on top of the door and debris was falling down,” he said. “We ran outside, down the driveway.”

Witnesses from the Highliner restaurant had called the fire department and helped the family across Third Avenue.

“They were there to help my wife, my child and I across the road,” Sharpe recalled. “Somebody brought a blanket for my wife and my baby, got them wrapped up. When I finally had gotten across the road, we looked back and the entire gable of the house was on fire.”

Debris from the house had fallen onto Sharpe’s boat and his car, the latter of which was instantly consumed.

“The boat suffered minor burns but the car went up completely in flames,” he said.

Fellow tenants in an older structure on the same property, Clay Olson and Brie Hutchinson had also fled with their child. They then accompanied Angelova and the baby to the safety of a neighbor’s house while Sharpe awaited the fire department’s arrival.

“I had kind of helped them pull the hose out,” he said. “I pulled a muscle in my calf doing that because I was barefoot in my pajamas and I slipped. After that happened, I just went back to the side and watched.”

When the flames were extinguished, Sharpe would join his family at their neighbor’s house, grateful for safety. It would not be until the following day that he would discover his greatest loss while sifting through debris. The family cat Willoughby had perished in the fire.

“We loved that cat,” Sharpe said. “Again, stuff is stuff, but a living being is a living being.”

Almost immediately, Sharpe and family were overwhelmed by an outpouring of community support. After several nights staying with their neighbor, the family was contacted by Tom Miller and offered a Miller’s Landing Cabin for a month. Area Halloween festivities incorporated fundraisers. Help has flooded in from friends and strangers alike, and Shape was at a loss for words to express his family’s gratitude.

“We are super-grateful to everyone,” he said. “I’ve lived all over the country, from South Carolina to Oregon to here, and I’ve had to restart a few times, and this is the first time that I’ve ever had help like I have, so I can honestly say this wouldn’t happen in a different community.”

With all the help they received, from new phones to money for replacement wardrobes to offers for winter housing, Sharpe remains confident his family will be able to rebound from the ordeal.

“I can’t list the people that donated because I don’t know half the people that donated, but if they know and they see us, they’re more than welcome to walk up and I’ll give them a hug!” he said. “That’s no joke!”

As of this writing, the GoFundMe campaign established to help the family has raised $15,580 of its $20,000 goal. Contributions may be made at gofundme.com/f/kyle-vili-isabella.