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Home ‘Went Up Like A Tinderbox’

The house on Center Street was being knocked down on Tuesday afternoon. Photo by Anthony Dolce

FREDONIA — Early Tuesday morning, Tristen Larson, her son Zephyr, her boyfriend Dennis Thomas, and their roommate Austin Thompson woke up and immediately sensed danger.

What they initially believed was smoke from their stove at their upstairs apartment on Center Street in Fredonia proved to be a much more imminent threat.

“We had an alarm set for 6 and we woke up five minutes before that,” Larson said. “It was way smokier in the house than it should have been for anything. At first we thought it was coming from the stove so we checked there and it wasn’t the stove and we realized it was not coming from our apartment at all.”

Realizing how bad the smoke was, the four of them and their dog, Axel, quickly made their way down the stairs, vacating the house as safely as can be. And while they all made it out of their house, everything in the house quickly went up in flames.

“We got outside and Austin went around the building and saw flames shooting out of the house,” Larson said. “We immediately called 911 and got in the car and backed the car up.”

Now Zephyr, Thompson, and Larson and Thomas, the owners of Critical Gaming in Fredonia, find themselves without clothes, documents, other necessities, and most importantly, a place to stay.

“We have to find a place to stay and that takes our dog,” Larson said. “We can handle ourselves from this point. We just have to find housing.”

With only a day having passed since their lives were upended, the community has already rallied to help the four of them. Larson’s mother shared a Facebook donation link shortly after the fire occurred at 6 a.m., and in just the day since, the donation link is already up to over $1,800. Larson said that in spite of everything, she’s happy the four of them were able to get out.

“If we had been out five minutes later, we wouldn’t be alive,” Larson said. “It went up like a tinderbox. The floor started caving in under us. There was no getting back in that building.”

Those who would like to donate can find their Facebook link at https://www.facebook.com/donate/617854089495578/10217886981159828/. Those looking to donate food, clothes, or other goods can drop it off at Critical Gaming at 4 W. Main St. in Fredonia. Larson wears medium or large women’s clothes and size 14 pants, while Thompson and Thomas both wear 2XL and Zephyr is a size 4 or 5.

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