Last weekend Miss Lucky shared her luck with eight residents of an apartment building that violently burst into flames and is a total loss. This girl was a hero.
Thanks to Lucky all eight residents got out of the house. Unfortunately an upstairs cat did succumb to the acrid smoke that quickly filled the building. Fire investigators determined the blaze was arson caused by someone who had a grudge against one of the apartment building residents. Typical of the neighborhood, the house was a 1920s style large house that had been subdivided into apartments, so there was lots of old, well dried wood that made perfect kindling.
Lucky is our cousin Mike’s long-time feline companion and good buddy. They live in Minneapolis, close to the site of the Super Bowl this weekend, and he’s been working long days preparing for the crowds the event will bring to the area.
The night of the fire Mike had just gotten home from work pretty late and fixed himself dinner in his apartment at the front of the structure when Lucky started making very strange, very loud growling noises. Mike had never heard her sound like that and couldn’t figure out what was wrong with her. He decide to see if there was something going on in the hall, so stepped out into the main hall of the building, opened the interior door to the vestibule leading to the front door. He immediately saw flames licking around the steel entrance door. He made the mistake of opening that door to see what was going on, saw a wall of flames and slammed it shut again. About that time, his front window blew out, letting smoke and flames come shooting in.
Mike ran upstairs to the third floor yelling, “FIRE. Get out!” He got everyone out, down the stairs and out the back door. About that time, he realized Lucky was still inside, so he ran back in calling her. He said he could hear her, but couldn’t find her. Searching through the now smoke-filled room, he finally located her behind the stove, sort of flattened against the wall. He said he did the only thing he could do - grabbed her by the nape of the neck, hauled her up, and tossed her outside into the snow.
The fire department arrived very quickly, but the flames were out of control. Neighbors came out offering assistance and the Red Cross arrived. The residents were all standing out in the sub-freezing temperatures with no coats, gloves or anything else, just watching the firefighters try to keep the blaze from spreading. Someone brought Mike a coat.
Suddenly amidst the chaos, Mike realized he hadn’t seen Lucky since he tossed her out of the house, so went in search of her around the house perimeter. No Lucky. About three hours later, he heard her complain as she came wandering up.
Residents were allowed back in the next day to see if anything was salvageable. Mike’s belongings were pretty much all in ashes, including his bicycle that was his main mode of transportation to work. As in many urban areas, residents don’t normally have cars, they use bikes or public transportation. He said a glass pitcher that he treasured was just a blob of glass. Clothes, shoes, kitchen equipment, food, cat supplies, etc., etc., all gone. He kept meaning to get renter’s insurance, but never did. Like so many people who work in the service industry, he lives paycheck to paycheck.
He and Lucky spent the rest of the night with a neighbor. Things have been very uncertain since then, trying to figure out where to go from here. His friends and neighbors have been so kind and helpful, but the road ahead looks pretty rocky.
Mike has had run of bad luck the last few years. A few years ago he lost the house he had owned for about 20 years. He was another victim of those shady home loans that banks were plugging. No one explained what a balloon payment meant or what would happen if he couldn’t pay up immediately. When he got a notice saying the balloon payment was due, he tried to get the bank to work with him, but real estate prices had really gone up in his area, so the bank wasn’t willing to work with him. Right about that time the restaurant where he worked lost its lease, so closed, and Mike was unemployed. He found another job, but had missed a payment or two and sure didn’t have the balloon payment. He was still trying to find solutions when he got the eviction notice.
Moving out of that house he had cared for so lovingly for so long was a blow and required getting rid of most of his belongings that had sentimental value and anything that wasn’t needed for day-to-day living. He kept old photos and a few items that had extra special meaning. He took a deep breath, adjusted to that, and he and Lucky moved on with their new lives in the small apartment in the 1920s house down the street. He did not get renter’s insurance. Now even the few things he took with him are all gone. Thank heavens he still has Lucky, that old friend and now a hero.
Mike is a hard-working, smart, funny, kind, warm-hearted and thoughtful guy. He’s tough enough to get through this and start over, but could really use some help at this time. He really needs a break to help get him back on his feet.
Thank you so very much for any help you can give him.
Linda Stark and Barbara McNally
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