ERIE, Colo. — A bag of dog food thudded as Allison Frary pushed it away with her foot. Donated jackets and pants were piled on her couches, and shoes covered her floor. She looked around and laughed at how cluttered the front room of her home had become.
"I don’t like to look over there," she said as she stared at the charred home across the street. "But this happened because of that, so it’s nice to remember what’s going on."
It was about 1 a.m. Wednesday when Frary ran out of her home in Erie to see the orange glow of a fire coming from her neighbor's house.
"It was my daughter," Frary said. "She heard Tara screaming for help and frantically started screaming for help for us to wake up because our neighbor's house was on fire."
The neighbors, Mike and Tara Wiesner, made it out safely along with their kids and dogs. A puppy and a guinea pig couldn't be saved. Mountain View Fire said the cause of the fire at the home on Parkdale Circle has not been released yet, but they didn't think it was suspicious.
"It happened so quickly that if our son hadn't woken us up, that would have been it," Mike Wiesner said.
"I just kept counting the children, just making sure all the kids were out," Tara Wiesner said.
Mike is a respiratory therapist, and Tara is a nurse case manager. Their year has been spent on the frontlines, helping people deal with devastation, only to come home to their own.
"My husband and I are no strangers to seeing people in peril and seeing people that were devastated by fire," Tara said. "We’ve seen a lot go on this past year."
While the couple knows all too well how quickly anguish can spread, so can a little kindness, especially when it comes from just across the street.
"I asked them their sizes when they were here the night of the fire," Frary said as she folded a T-shirt. "Every member of the family has their own wardrobe now."
Frary said she couldn't sit around and replay those screams in her head. She needed to do something. She put the call out for donations the morning after the fire. Within hours, her living room was packed with clothes, toiletries, food and school supplies. She created a GoFundMe as well, and it raised more than $37,000 in a couple of days.
"It was just pretty much an instinct," she said. "I knew that they pretty much lost everything, their whole life that they have been working for. If they were in my shoes, I would just hope that they would do that same."
While houses may make up a neighborhood, they don't create a community. The Wiesner family realized it's compassion that really makes a neighborhood whole and believes theirs is worth rebuilding for.
"It's amazing the kindness that people can show you when something happens," Tara said. "Why would you ever want to leave that type of environment?"
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