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First responders, community wish fire victims a magical Christmas

A local family lost all of their belongings in a double-wide trailer fire in the Leadwood area on Dec. 2 and members of the community are stepping up to help.

Deanna Gidden, along with her daughter Paityn and her daughter’s friend were in the home at the time of the early-morning fire. She heard a breaking sound and feared someone was breaking in but soon found her home was on fire. 

They made it out of the residence without injuries but lost their home and all the Christmas presents they had purchased for their 8-year-old daughter.

The community is putting forth an effort to help the family recover financially and give their daughter the special Christmas she deserves. If you are willing to help, donations can be dropped off at the St. Francois County Ambulance District, the American Family Insurance Office at 700 W Karsch Blvd. or Farmington Imo’s.

St. Francois County Ambulance Paramedic Ryan Hill started a GoFundMe page for the family. 

“St. Francois County Ambulance District has made sure that the family will have a great Christmas dinner and matched the gift amount donated by International Association of Firefighters 3705 so that everyone will receive a fair amount of gifts along with outside donors as well,” he said. “But I want to show the family something more. I want to show the little girl and the family that humans can love and care for each other.  

“It’s not because I think they deserve it more than the next family, but because I am here and just want to see Christmas still be magical occasionally for everyone. Come be a part of making a family’s Christmas great and help me fulfill a few people’s immediate dreams/needs! We can change the lives of people around us, choose this with me. Help them get towards a new living space!”

Leadwood Fire Chief Matthew Peery said it was a tough fire and they did everything they could to minimize the damage. They had two fire trucks out the door within six minutes of their dispatch — which is good for a volunteer fire department like theirs. He said by the time they got there the fire was advanced as trailers burn fast. They struck a second alarm to get additional manpower and equipment.

They were able to salvage an oak chest that contained photos and personal belongings of a daughter who had past away. 

“Every time someone loses stuff regardless of the time of year … it’s tough,” he said. 

He added that the cause of the fire is undetermined and the state fire marshal has been notified.

“It was a morning I will never forget, our lives will never return to normal again,” said Deanna. “I want to thank everyone that has showed an outpouring of love from the bottom of our hearts.”

She expressed appreciation she has for her adult children Joseph, Austin, Sarah and Rachel being so quick to rush to their aid, as well as the friends of the family. “There is too many but you know who you guys are and you guys have been our rock, we love all of you so much.”

“To all of the firefighters, you guys rock. St. Francois County Ambulance District, you guys have been awesome.” the homeowner said. “Matt Peery, thank you for getting my daughter’s special blanket, as well as Red Cross and everyone who worked so hard to get my life collection of pictures.”

Community members are helping a family who lost their belongings in a fire on Dec. 2. 

Community members are helping a family who lost their belongings in a fire on Dec. 2. 

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