Exeter Family Not Sure Where to Turn After Fire
By Lara Bricker
Special to the Union Leader
EXETER__Sharon and Allan Welch are not sure where to turn after a devastating fire destroyed their mobile home Monday afternoon.
“After Thursday, we don’t really know where we’re going to go,” Sharon, 50, said Tuesday afternoon.
The Great Bay Chapter of the American Red Cross was able to provide temporary housing through Thursday for the couple, their teenage daughter, two dogs and one cat. But after that, the family says they are at a loss for what they will do.
Allan, 51, who works on construction, has been out of work for several months and unable to find a new job, his wife said. Every place that he has applied to for a job has told the local man to return in the spring. Sharon, who works as a LNA at Riverwoods at Exeter, was the sole provider for the family, but says they were just making ends meet with her income.
The family had insurance on their home but it will only pay off the mortgage on the house, not provide funds for them to rebuild. So while they do own the lot at 15 Icy Hill Road where the home sat, they say as of now they don’t have the funds to rebuild there.
Sharon’s older daughter, who is 29, lives in Exeter but with several children of her own does not have any space. A group of the couple’s neighbors are meeting Tuesday evening to talk about how the community can come together to help the family in the aftermath of the fire. At this time, a relief fund has not been established for the family.
Allan was at home when the fire started just after 2 p.m. Monday afternoon in a back bedroom. Fire officials say the cause of the fire is still under investigation but they do not believe it is suspicious.
Allan escaped the house with the Shitzu and Puggle dogs, but could not find the family’s cat, Autumn. After the fire was extinguished, the cat amazingly came out alive, Sharon said.
“The cat came flying out one of the windows, she seems to be okay,” she said.
Sharon, who was at work at the time, came home to find her home and all of the contents, including family photos, completely destroyed.
“I was completely devastated,” she said. “I never realized a fire could do that much damage—there’s nothing left.”
Doug Hewitt, Emergency Services Director for the Great Bay Chapter of the American Red Cross, said the agency was able to provide for the family’s immediate needs like housing, clothes and food. They also provided care packets with items like toothbrushes and shampoo.
“All disasters have some sort of an impact on a family,” Hewitt said. “It was very, very difficult for them.”