Oakland Park Family Loses Everything in Fire

On November 30th, 2020, Kelli and Stephen, who just moved all of their worldly possessions into a new apartment in Oakland Park, came home to ruins. While Kelli was picking up one of her two daughters from daycare, her husband and mother-in-law phoned her to tell her news no one wants to hear. There had been a fire and nothing was left.

Family Loses Everything in Fire

The couple had recently fallen on hard times. They had saved for months to come up with first, last, and security and struggled to find an apartment amidst a pandemic that had many landlords leery of new renters not to mention the lack of rental apartments. It was no easy feat, but they were happy for the new beginning and excited to be close to their girls’, who are just six and seven years old, schools.

On the day they moved all of their possessions out of storage into the apartment, they lost it all. The day that was supposed to be a new beginning went up in flames.

On the way back home, Stephen phoned Kelli to let her know there was nothing left. Their family pictures, their furniture, their daughters’ teddy bears. All of it was gone. In the midst of their loss, they never imagined what was to come.

Good Should Come Together to Help

That’s when the Oakland Park Fire Rescue Benevolent Association, Battalion Chief Monica Maldonado, and Fire Chief Stephen Krivjanik stepped in to help the family. The whole department, touched by the family’s circumstances, came together. In conjunction with the Red Cross’s help, they were able to find a small but suitable temporary apartment. The Oakland Park Benevolent Association has been donating their time with support, such as painting and cleaning the new apartment.

“They don’t have to do anything they are doing”, Kelli stated. “My girls are sleeping with teddy bears that the fireman’s wives have donated. I just want to thank them for all they have done for us”.

Trying to Make Things Work

While the new apartment is suitable for the time being, the family is in need. The landlord, Henry Louis, who rented the apartment where the fire occurred has refused to refund any of the family’s money. Living in Oakland Park tried to reach Louis at a number that was provided for him. When a man answered the call from Living In Oakland Park he denied being Henry Louis and promptly hung up the phone.

GoFundMe For the Family

The Oakland Park Fire Department has started a GoFundMe in their honor, which you can find here: https://www.gofundme.com/f/9dqvr-family-loses-everything-in-house-fire. For transparency, all items purchased with the money will be photographed and posted.

More Needed Items

The holidays can be a particularly stressful time for families, especially during a pandemic. The City of Oakland Park’s Fire’s Department is embracing the holiday spirit and helping this family in need but you can help too!

How You Can Help!

Should you wish to donate a tangible item, the new apartment lacks space; they could use a new daybed with a trundle for the girls. Please consider donating new as in this time of the pandemic, and it is not necessarily safe or sanitary to donate used beds or bedding. They also need clothes for the both of the girls and the parents.

  • The girls wear sizes 7 and 10 for clothes and shoes sizes 12 and 13 (girls sizes).
  • The mother is large in shirts, pants 7-11 and 7.5 in shoes.
  • The father is large in shirts, 38×32  in pants and size 10 shoes.

If you have a trundle bed or any other items for this family, please drop them off at Oakland Park Fire Station #87 at 2100 NW 39th St. Please reach out to Firefighter Ryan Snyder at ryan.snyder@oaklandparkfl.gov if you have any additional questions.

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*LivingInOaklandPark.com is an independent publication, not affiliated with the City of Oakland Park.

About the Author

Rhiannon Samoyedny

Rhiannon Samoyedny

Rhiannon Samoyedny was born and raised in South Florida. She has lived in Oakland Park for over 25 years and purchased her home in Garden Acres in 2012 where she resides with her husband, two teenaged boys, a few rescue cats, and her dog.

Her professional career began as a project manager and estimator for a small Oakland Park construction company and she later went on to earn her degree in Court Reporting, where she later incorporated her own small business RS Reporting, Inc.

She has a passion for gardening and attends many horticulture classes and workshops. She is also an LGA (Local Government Academy) graduate, class of 2019, and an active community volunteer and activist. You can usually find her around town at various Oakland Park meetings and events with her notebook, so be sure to say hello.

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