Community rallies to help families who lost homes to fire


Autumn Jones had just finished working out and was getting ready to leave her East End Road home on China Poot Court on Jan. 7. Her daughter, Destiny, 13, was in class at Homer Middle School. Her partner, Neils Cordes, was at work.

“Then some guy came and told me the house was on fire,” said Jones.

Hannah Walker, Jones’ longtime friend and neighbor — only a garage separated their homes — was away at the time. Her children, husband, Ryan, daughter, Trinity, 9, and son, Dallas, 5, also were away from the residence. 

“I had just left about 12:30 p.m. to go shopping and I got a phone call that my house was on fire,” said Walker.  

Within short order, the 18-by-24-foot cabin that was the Walker home, its attached garage and the trailer where Jones and her family lived were destroyed by fire.

Nobody was injured. One cat is being treated for injuries. Two cats remain unaccounted for. Kittens, turtles and tanks of fish did not survive.

Now, the community is rallying to replace belongings that were lost. 

The American Red Cross of Alaska helped meet immediate needs. 

“They put us in the Windjammer Suites for three days and Beluga Lake Lodge donated a week of stay with a kitchenette,” said Walker.

The Red Cross also provided a way for the families to purchase necessary personal items.

Through friends, the Jones-Cordes family has been provided a fully furnished apartment for the next six months.

The Kenai Peninsula Borough School District Students in Transition liaison, Marlaina Thiel, “is trying to get us some vouchers,” said Walker.  

“This can be a stressful time for children,” said Thiel of the services she provides in this type of situation. “All I can do is support the children so they can continue in school as stress-free as possible.”

Accounts at Alaska USA Federal Credit Union and Spenard Builders Supply are available for donations.

George’s Storage on East End Road has donated space for people to leave donated items.

Paul Banks Elementary School, where the Walker children are enrolled, is collecting donations from faculty and staff to help the families. The student council at McNeil Canyon Elementary School also is lending a helping hand.

A bake sale at Safeway on Saturday, operated by Charity Stewart, Madi Elkington and Brita Restad, raised  more than $1,100.

Kathy Johnson is organizing a community spaghetti feed and auction to be held at the Elks Lodge at Jan. 26. Dessert is being donated by the Church of the Nazarene. 

“This is a growing experience for our family,” said Walker. “It’ll make us stronger in the end. … I’m keeping myself together. I have to for my children. It’s all about them. And getting our house back up and livable.”

Jones acknowledged the support the families have received.

“The fire went quick, but this community has helped out so much. It’s been wonderful and a little overwhelming,” she said. “I’m definitely glad we live here.”

McKibben Jackinsky can be reached at mckibben.jackinsky@homernews.com.

More in News

Dollynda Phelps discusses current issues in the cannabis industry with local business owners on Wednesday, Sept. 12, 2018, in Kenai, Alaska. (Photo by Victoria Petersen/Peninsula Clarion)
Cannabis industry meeting raises concerns over Alcohol and Marijuana Control Office

Cannabis cultivators, retailers and consumers squeezed into a small Kenai living room… Continue reading

The wall of the Red Chris tailings pond is a little less than 350 feet, or about the height of a 35-story building. It follows the same design as the Mount Polley tailings dam, which broke in 2014, sending 24 million cubic meters of toxic mine tailings into the Fraser River watershed. It is designed, however, to hold 305 million cubic meters of mine waste — seven times more than Mount Polley. Both mines are owned by Imperial Metals. (Courtesy Photo | Garth Lenz via Salmon State)
Transboundary mine faces $200-million cash crunch

With a strike, falling copper prices and more than $554-million ($723 million… Continue reading

Niko Mogar is shown in a June 2018 booking photo. (Photo provided, Homer Police)
Police arrest Homer area thief on new counts

A man charged last month with burglary and vehicle theft faces new… Continue reading

Homer area residents listen to the Tuesday, Sept. 18, 2018 Kenai Peninsula Borough Assembly meeting at Homer City Hall in Homer, Alaska. (Photo by Megan Pacer/Homer News)
Residents talk Kachemak Selo school at assembly

While no major action was taken at Tuesday’s Kenai Peninsula Borough Assembly… Continue reading

Ken Castner III answers a question at a city council and mayoral candidate forum Tuesday, Sept. 11, 2018 at Alice’s Champagne Palace in Homer, Alaska. Castner is running for Homer mayor. (Photo by Megan Pacer/Homer News)
Castner running for mayor to promote unity

Although Ken Castner has served on numerous city commissions, committees and task… Continue reading

Homer area school announcements

Homer High School Friday — Homecoming football game against Seward High School… Continue reading

David Lewis, a former member of the Homer City Council, makes his final remarks during his last meeting as a council member Monday, Oct. 9, 2017 in Cowles Council Chambers in Homer, Alaska. (Photo by Megan Pacer/Homer News)
Lewis takes second try at Homer mayor

Veteran Homer City Council member David Lewis will take another run for… Continue reading

Borough elections 2018: What you need to know

In between the August primary election and the November general election, Homer… Continue reading

Supreme Court finds Griswold due process rights violated

Editor’s note: This story has been updated to include a comment from… Continue reading

Most Read