Family thankful for community support after losing home to fire
Steamboat Springs — Shortly after learning they had lost their home and family dog to a Sunday morning fire, Bode and Merritt Flanigan walked into their temporary bedrooms at a friends’ house and found bags full of soccer gear, clothes, stuffed animals and pictures.
“That was pretty cool for them to feel like, even though their house was gone, their home is still here,” Gardner Flanigan said of his two children.
The entire Flanigan family was receiving an outpouring of community support a day after the Sunday morning fire, which killed the family dog but resulted in no other injuries.
“We’re still pretty much in shock, but I don’t think there’s probably any other place in the world that is as tight as this community,” Gardner Flanigan said. “You feel so recognized and loved. Every single one of us has gotten emotional because of the outpouring of love. We’re so incredibly lucky.”
The Flanigans and their children were out of town when their home caught fire.
“We’re doing well, and the prevailing sentiment for us is that we’re incredibly grateful,” Gardner’s wife, Mille, said Monday.
A fundraising campaign to help the Flanigan family replace the items that were lost in the fire had already surpassed $11,000 by Monday afternoon.
“We don’t even know what we need yet,” Gardner Flanigan said. “We don’t have anything. We don’t have birth certificates or passports.”
Flanigan said the family wanted to send a heartfelt “thank you” to everyone who had shown support.
Some community members have already started donating items such as soccer gear to the Flanigans’ children, who will soon begin eighth and fourth grades.
The children’s friends have also been offering help.
Along with donations, friends and family are leaving messages of support.
“You have all given so much to this community; it is our time to give back to you,” the Olson family wrote on the fundraising page.
The Flanigans’ were out of town when a fire fully engulfed their home on Fish Creek Falls Road.
The family had engaged a house sitter, but the sitter was not in the residence when the fire ignited.
Neighbors ran to the scene of the blaze and yelled inside, in case anyone was home.
Chuck Cerasoli, deputy fire chief at Steamboat Springs Fire Rescue, said Monday investigators are still working to determine what started the blaze.
“Nothing is jumping out to us as being suspicious,” Cerasoli said.
Cerasoli was planning to walk the Flanigans through the remains of the home Monday morning.
Gardner Flanigan praised the work of his neighbors and the emergency responders who extinguished the blaze and prevented its spread to other properties.
“While our house was a total loss, they recognized our neighbor’s house was at serious risk,” he said. “They immediately started on that. Every single firefighter and police officer has been incredibly gracious.”
Flanigan grew emotional when he recounted the first words he heard from all the emergency responders.
“They said, ‘We’re so sorry for your loss, and we can’t imagine what you’re going through, but we’re so glad you are safe’,” Flanigan said.
In the wake of the blaze, the Flanigans are staying with friends.
Gardner Flanigan said the family is currently looking for a furnished, four-bedroom residence to stay longer term.
“We’re all very happy that we’re together and safe,” he said.
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