Sep. 7—Benjamin Hutchins lost a cat, his home and most of his possessions but chooses to focus on what he does have.
Hutchins' home was destroyed in a blaze last week.
No one was home, but Hutchins was treated for smoke inhalation after rushing in to save the family dog —
The one-alarm fire was reported at
"We're all healthy," Hutchins said "We're alive. Our community has banded together and given us so much and fed us and clothed us. We're going to be fine. I'd rather attention go to the folks who deserve it."
It's not the first time Hutchins has chosen to focus on the needs of others.
Hutchins served in the
According to a previous
A couple of days later, he charged an enemy fighting position across an open field to take out fighters armed with rocket-propelled grenades, a machine gun and sniper rifles.
Hutchins didn't speak about his military service or background with
"On arrival, we had heavy smoke conditions from the entire dwelling the fire was still contained inside," Bradshaw said.
Crews stayed with the fire for a little more than three hours.
The preliminary cause appears to be a kitchen appliance malfunction, Bradshaw said.
Hutchins said insurance adjusters and investigators are conducting the damage analysis while he stays in a local motel.
"We're looking forward to getting into a camper so we get to be with our dogs on the property and put things back together," Hutchins said
His daughters, 18 and 15, are staying with friends.
Hutchins said his younger daughter is handling losing her items well but is grieving the loss of her cat.
Most items were lost in the blaze, but Hutchins is crediting the
"A lot of our stuff was singed or burned, but what they did save was miraculous," Hutchins said.
Hutchins said he is still able to work.
His business, American Woodoworkery, is less than half a mile away from the
The close proximity and Hutchins' latest experience is causing him to focus on the fire department's needs rather than his own.
"I'm not saying this just because they came and kicked (expletive) on my house," Hutchins said. "Ours sadly won't be the last house that catches on fire. There's going to be car crashes, and these guys are the first line of defense that a lot of people take for granted."
Hutchins plans to build a custom rustic wooden table with stools, which once complete he estimates will be valued at about
Hutchins said he wants to raffle off the table to benefit the fire department.
He asked that anyone who considered supporting him to reconsider and support the fire department instead.
As he is finalizing plans, Hutchins said he hopes local business owners will consider serving as places where the community can purchase raffle tickets.
Bradshaw said the Vander department operates out of two fire stations with a combination of eight employees that include a daytime paid staff and supplemented volunteers.
The department also has an agreement to assist the
"Some volunteer departments struggle to make ends meet," Bradshaw said. "We're fortunate here in a county where a fire tax revenue generates funds. Is it always enough? No. We struggle sometimes, but there are smaller departments that don't have a large fire district and struggle as we do."
At the same time, Bradshaw said he's grateful for Hutchins' willingness to want to support the department.
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