Man thankful for help after fire guts his home, ignites neighbor’s

138 Oak and a neighboring home were damaged by the intense blaze

Rockford Dept. assisted by three others

By BETH ALTENA

Rich Kaiser surveys aftermath of the fire, which destroyed his home on May 6th

The combined best efforts of the Rockford Department of Public Safety, Plainfield Township Fire Department, Algoma Township Fire Department and Cannon Fire Department were unable to stop a fire determined to destroy a home in Rockford at 138 Oak on Saturday, May 6.

Rich Kaiser, of Rockford Ambulance, has seen plenty in his career as first responder, and he said it is rare to see a home destroyed this completely by fire. He allowed the Squire to take pictures of the property, destined to be razed because it is unsafe and wanted the opportunity to thank everyone who has helped him since the event.

“I want to thank people for the response to the Go Fund Me page,” he said. His neighbors and everyone involved, even the insurance company, have been very supportive of his loss.

Kaiser was not home when the fire started. His niece and her husband, along with their new baby were living in the basement of the home. The husband had had a cigarette in the carport and thought he put it out. Later the two noticed light coming in the window on the north side of the building where the carport was. They went to look and saw the structure blazing.

The two story home went up fast, and the extreme heat of it ignited the next door neighbor’s home to the north, causing extreme damage there, too. Kaiser said he was away when he received a call from a friend, who asked him what his address was. “I think your house is on fire,” he told Kaiser.

The home ended up so badly burned that almost nothing inside is salvageable. Even items that appear fine, a collection of ambulance and police cars, are not able to be cleaned and saved due to the possibility of toxins from the burning contents of the home.

From the charred contents of his former home office, Kaiser shows off a trio of items he did take from his home. One is a poster of the Statue of Liberty, a tribute to those lost in 911. Another is a picture of the United States Capital building in Washington, D.C. Kaiser is a student of politics and is very interested in the country’s political process.

Finally, a picture that was literally saved from the ravages of smoke by the glass of its frame. It is the first painting of the granddaughter of friends of the family. He said the girl, now grown, wanted to be an artist and he offered to commission her first painting. He bought all her supplies, totaling a hundred dollars, and she painted the Rockford dam for him.

Now the picture has sentimental value to Kaiser, and he took it to the Frame and Matt shop in Rockford for restoration. He believed it would be alright under the glass. “You can kind of see through the cracks the blue of the sky,” he described.

For the rest of his losses, all of his possessions, Kaiser is unexpectedly unmoved. “They were only things,” he said. “They can be replaced. I’m just glad there was no loss of life, no one was hurt.”

The former owner of the home was more moved than he by its loss. He ran into the woman he purchased the home from in the Rockford Post Office shortly after the fire and told her about it. “She practically started crying,” he said. “It was a nice house.”

He said the car in the carport, burned right down to where you can see the metal wires that were part of the tires, the rubber completely gone, and said someone was interested in cleaning it up. They thought it might make a good Artprize display against smoking.