Family grateful for support after fire destroys home

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SANDPOINT — A local family is blown away the support they’ve received since losing their home in a November fire.

After moving into town in August 2011, Graham and Victoria Brimhall were eager to get settled down into local living and their jobs at Schweitzer Mountain and Mountain West Bank. However, a fire in their mobile home in November disrupted that process pretty quickly. As devastating as that experience was, however, it revealed the undercurrent of generosity in the region that takes many individuals by surprise.

“We’re just blown away by the support we’ve received and wanted to send a thank you out to the community,” Graham Brimhall said.

The Brimhalls were home Nov. 9 in a mobile residence they’d received as a gift from a friend. As Graham was resting, faulty wiring in the rear of the residence ignited and set it ablaze. Graham soon noticed the smoke, and he and Victoria took their kids to safety before trying to put out the fire.

The pair quickly realized it was out of control and called the fire department. With firefighters on the way, they attempted to remove as many of their possessions as possible.

When all was said and done, the damage to the mobile home was irreparable.

The Brimhalls prepared to deal with the loss as best they could. What they didn’t expect was the almost-immediate response from community organizations, businesses and individuals. The first to help was the Red Cross, which helped set the family up at the K2 Inn. Thrift stores like Goodwill and Panhandle Animal Shelter contributed clothing to the family.

A more permanent living situation was acquired when resident Anthony Ballo offered to let them live in his three-bedroom, two-bathroom home in exchange for a little assistance in maintenance.

“We’re helping him take care of the home during the winter,” Brimhall said.

A big source of assistance came from Graham’s colleagues at Schweitzer. His supervisor, Jessica Parker, held a fundraiser for the family, and Schweitzer Mountain Resort matched the raised money to bring the total up to more than $2,000. Victoria’s coworkers helped as well, as Judy Baird of Mountain West Bank helped set up an assistance fund for the family.

Other streams of assistance came from Doug and Kelly Harlicker of Wrenco Arms, the Community Assistance League, Laurie Hunt and Glen and Sheila Balison. While they said there are far too many people to list that helped out, whether it be through a financial contribution, clothing contributions or other donations, they want everyone to know how much they appreciate the help.

“The support from the community has just been phenomenal,” Victoria Brimhall said. “We’re just so grateful.”

In fact, the family is so thankful for the outpouring of support that they’re eager to pass the the good will to someone else.

“We can’t wait until we’re in a position to help the next family in need that comes around,” Brimhall said.

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