May 24 fire at Balvanz home

Firefighters chopped some holes in the roof over the kitchen/laundry area to make sure the fire was out.

Firefighters chopped some holes in the roof over the kitchen/laundry area to make sure the fire was out.

By Marcie Klomp
The family was enjoying some food and fellowship at a LeRoy graduation party when they were told their house in Lime Springs was on fire, Saturday, May 24.
Mike and Amber Balvanz rushed to the scene to see Lime Springs and Chester firefighters chopping holes on west side of their roof and ceiling and spraying their home with water.

Amber got hold of a firefighter, asking him to save her family pictures.

With tears running down her face, Amber said, “We were going to move, and the pictures were all packed in a tub. I asked Tary (Kolek) and Tommy (Roberts) to get them.”

She kept repeating how thankful she was that nobody was home and nobody was hurt. The family’s dog was retrieved by Amber’s cousin, J.J. Miller, who lives across the street and was the one who called in the fire.

“I walked outside and smelled smoke. Then I saw smoke coming from a vent in the roof over the kitchen,” he explained.
Amber’s sister Arielle Engelhart was the one who got a text from one of her friends, Makayla Gates, and she alerted the rest of the family at the graduation party.

Another neighbor, Charlene Gates, moved the boys’ bikes. Kole (age 8) and Kaelen (5) had just gotten new bike. She joked they were trying to run the tread off the tires; they were riding them so much. The couple also has a nearly nine-month-old, Ruger.

Mike said they had just paid off the house a month earlier and were in the process of looking for a new one. They had a buyer for the current house, but nothing was finalized, he added.
Mike was impressed with the speed with which the Red Cross helped the family. A representative had called them the evening of the fire, and the family had some debit cards by 1 p.m. the next day.

At present, Balvanzes are living in their camper. Mike commented they had sold the camper, and the people who purchased it were supposed to pick it up on Saturday evening. They graciously let the family keep it after learning about the fire.

In an odd twist of fate, Mike and Amber’s fire was just two days shy of 13 years since Mike’s parents’ house and contents were destroyed in a fire.

Thirteen firefighters responded from Lime Springs and 10 from Chester. The fire marshal and insurance adjustor were to check out the house on Tuesday.

Schwickerath’s incident report stated the origin was in the lean-to kitchen addition and approximately 300 gallons of water was used. The firefighters left the station around 6:50 p.m.
There is no word yet on fund-raisers for the family. Check next week’s paper for more information.

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