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North Tonawanda community rallying to fix family home destroyed by a fire more than 15 months ago

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Posted at 4:11 PM, Aug 03, 2021
and last updated 2021-08-03 18:47:49-04

NORTH TONAWANDA, N.Y. (WKBW) — More than 15 months ago, a fire broke out at Michelle Casey's neighbors house on 3rd Street in North Tonawanda. Her neighbor and his dog died in the fire that April morning. The blaze spread to her home just feet away.

"I was woken up by my daughter and her boyfriend saying the neighbors house was on fire," Casey said.

Casey had lived in the home for 23 years, and now all that is really left are memories.

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"The memories are the biggest thing. The clothes, everything else… That all can be replaced," Casey said.

Casey said her neighbor's insurance denies responsibility, so she has not received any money to fix her home. She's been living in an apartment with her four kids down the street for nearly a year and a half.

Casey has been repairing the home herself.

"We literally started garbage picking. Yard sales and stuff to come up with the money to fix the house," Casey said, "We’ve made some progress, but not fully."

Now, the North Tonawanda community is coming together to help get Casey and her family back in their home.

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"North Tonawanda is a family, and a family member needs help right now. I’m going to rally local contractors, HVAC, plumbers, electricians to get our mechanicals in. Then we’re going to have a community workday where I’m going to ask the community to help us hang drywall, sand, paint. The goal is to get Michelle back in this house before the cold weather," Robert Brennan, a contractor leading the volunteer project, said.

Brennan said they're hoping to get the job done as soon as possible, which could take two to three months. He said he's asking the community for help to speed up that process, whether it be through donating goods or services.

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"Michelle has quite frankly suffered from a lack of help and a lack of assistance. She’s tried to do most of this on her own. I admire her for what she’s done. She’s done an admirable job up until this point. But obviously she needs help. We all need help once and a while," Brennan said.

Brennan has already gathered some contractors to help him, but said he needs more. He has also started a GoFundMe where people can donate money towards the repairs.

Casey said she doesn't like to ask for help, but in this situation, she has to do what she has to do. She said she was shocked by Brennan's news that people wanted to assist her.

"He had called me and told me and I was like wow. Shocked. Like I was not expecting it," Casey said.