CARO — Friends and community members are rallying to come to the aid of a Caro family whose home was destroyed by fire Monday.
Duane and Tammy Card lost most of their belongings in a blaze at their home on the corner of Allen and Fremont Streets in Caro where they lived with their 16-year-old daughter and 14-year-old son. Duane was working to repair an old tractor in the garage when it backfired and started a gasoline fire.
“I think what happened is (the engine) has a sediment wall on it — those tractors did — and when I turned the valve on it, just turned it on and went over on the other side to work on the carburetor — and it apparently started leaking,” Duane Card said. “I don’t know exactly what happened. I just know I looked down and there was gas on the floor and it backfired and that was (how it started).”
“We used our fire extinguishers, salt, baking soda — everything we had to try (to put out the fire), but it was just so quick,” Tammy Card said. “It was gone, I mean it was really fast. It was very scary.”
Duane Card suffered minor burns to the top of his head, but no one was injured in the fire.
“I was standing right (next to the tractor) trying to shoot underneath it (with a fire extinguisher), and the flames came up this side of the tractor and started burning the insulation … and it was right over top of my head,” Duane said. “That’s when I said, ‘I’ve got to get out of here.’ ”
The damage to the building is so extensive that it has been condemned and is expected to be razed in the next couple weeks. Tammy Card said the city of Caro allows two weeks for the demolition of a damaged structure, but will work with the family in terms of the time period. The family is looking for assistance from someone with equipment capable of knocking down the building and filling in the “Michigan basement” beneath.
The Cards purchased the home — a foreclosure property — on September 27 last year. Duane works full-time and is going to school. The family paid cash for the home, but couldn’t afford the insurance until Duane finishes school.
“Everything in my daughter’s room is gone,” Tammy Card said. “She’s a Type-1 diabetic, so we’re talking her meter, her strips, everything.”
Kristin Boadway and her family live just down the street from the Card family and have opened their home to them.
“They’re living with me right now, and they pretty much lost almost everything,” Boadway said. “We tried getting as much clothing as we could find after the fire was out, when we were able to get into the house. That’s all they have.
“(Duane and Tammy’s) room was a complete loss, everything in their room is gone. … The daughter’s room is completely gone, but the son’s room is untouched. He will have a lot more stuff. They had an upstairs room where they kept their dirty clothes, and that whole room was trashed. There’s a lot of smoke and water damage, and what wasn’t damaged was buried under a massive amount of (debris).”
Fund raising efforts are under way to help the family.
“They did not have homeowner’s insurance, so anything to help with the costs of everything would be great,” Boadway said, noting the family had a limited amount of clothing and that was about it. “Cash donations and gift cards, would be wonderful too. It’s not just blankets and clothes and pilows — you only need so much of that — but the cash donations sometimes are the best route you can take.”
Donations may be made online through PayPal to the account linked to email address Cardfamily@hotmail.com. A donation site also has been set up at the fundraising website youcaring.com. Hover the mouse over the magnifying glass near the top of the webpage and type “A home for Christmas” in the search field to find the Card family’s page.
Those wishing to donate household items like clothing, furniture or appliances can call or text Tammy Card at (989) 670-4497 to make arrangements.
While the Card family has lost most of its material possessions, the family’s pets were uninjured in the blaze. The family dog was outside at the time and quickly taken to safety. The family’s pet bird, on the other hand, had a bit more harrowing experience.
“A firefighter found their parakeet under a TV cart on the opposite side of the house where the fire started, low to the floor, so the bird stayed underneath that cart the whole time the house was on fire,” Boadway said. “The 16-year-old daughter was so upset about the bird dying. A fireman walked out with a cage that was covered … took the cover off and the thing’s sitting on the perch. It was one of those little tiny silver linings you have at the end of the day.”
Tammy Card also saw the bird’s survival as a sign that things will work out for the best.
“It’s like there was a little ray of hope in all of this,” she said.
Bill Petzold is the editor of the Tuscola County Advertiser. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.