Community steps up to help Harrisonville fire victims

Posted at 10:34 PM, Dec 23, 2016
and last updated 2016-12-23 23:55:27-05

A week after almost 30 people lost their homes to a fire at the Twins Oaks apartment complex, community members continue to help those in need find housing and, in some cases, jobs. 

Crystal Hubbard was one of more than two-dozen people left homeless following the fire on December 15 at the apartment complex near Mission Road.

She told 41 Action News that in the days following the incident, life has been tough.

"I'm still realizing stuff that I had that I don't have anymore," said Hubbard, a mother of three young children. "It's exhausting trying to figure out where you're going to get this and that."

Hubbard explained that as a result of the fire, she had to call out from her job at a local hotel several times this week to take care of her children and find a place to permanently live.

However, her boss ended up firing her because of the absences.

"[My boss] told me that if I didn't come in, then I would be terminated," explained Hubbard.

Hubbard's story of despair and heartbreak is one of many following last week's fire.

As more than two-dozen people continue to try and recover, the Harrisonville community has helped them get back on their feet.

Just hours after the fire last Thursday, many of the people who lost their homes received help at the Harrisonville Church of the Nazarene.

"Since we're across the street, we opened our doors," explained Pastor Bill Kirkemo, who can see the destroyed apartment building from his church. "The community has come together in a powerful way with all kinds of donations."

In the days following the fire, Kirkemo told 41 Action News that people from around the community stepped in to help.

"People are dropping off Walmart gift cards. They're calling up and saying we have an extra bedroom suit if someone needs it," he said. "Clothes, food, furniture, and people offering to pay the first month's rent for some of these families who lost their homes."

By Friday, almost all of the donations had been picked up by families in need.

Hubbard said she was able to contact a landlord and get an apartment secured for the next year. 

Friends are also letting her know of job openings and speaking with their managers about positions at their workplaces.

With the fire happening so close to Christmas, she said others made sure her children had gifts to open on the holiday.

"My old boss bought me a tree that's completely decorated for my kids," she explained. "My kids now have presents underneath the tree."

Staring at the tree on Friday night, Hubbard was grateful for all the support she had received recently.

"I would never imagine I can get so much back in a week," she explained. "Losing my job and still having presents under the tree. If it wasn't for the community, my kids wouldn't have this."

In total, five buildings suffered damage because of the fire.

Investigators said one building was destroyed, while four others suffered damage after debris from the first building was blown around and landed on their roofs.

The cause of the fire has been attributed to a compressed wax log left in a fireplace.



Tom Dempsey can be reached at

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