Christmas night fire leaves family without home, vehicle, belongings, pets

There is virtually nothing left of the Erdley home in the aftermath of a Christmas night fire.

A Christmas night fire has left an area family without a home, vehicle or belongings. According to the family, also lost was one dog and three cats.

According to Brown County Sheriff John Merchant, at 11:25 p.m. Tuesday, Dec. 25, a report of a house fire at 408 Fanning in Morrill was called in to Brown County dispatch.

Walker and Warner Erdley open a present on Christmas morning. The Erdley family lost their home and all of its contents in a fire Christmas night.

Morrill Fire Department Chief Charlie Gruber said the occupants of the home — Keturah and Aric Erdley and their twin sons, Walker and Warner — were asleep when the fire broke out and were alerted of the fire by a neighbor.

“When firefighters arrived, the garage was completely engulfed in flames, as well as a vehicle that was sitting outside of the garage,” Gruber said.

Twenty firemen from multiple departments — Morrill, Fairview and Hiawatha — responded and some were on scene all night until 10 a.m. Wednesday, Dec. 26. Brown County Emergency Services personnel also were on the scene.

After investigation, Gruber said they determined where the fire started, but are still unsure of the cause.

“The fire started in the garage breezeway, but the cause was not determined,” Gruber said.

The house and garage are reported to be a total loss, as well as the resident’s vehicle. The majority of house’s contents suffered major heat, smoke and water damage.

The owners of the home are Richard and Louella (Rick and Ellie) Snodgrass of Belleville.

How to help

An online fundraiser for the family has been set up on Facebook (https://www.facebook.com/donate/388143368620151/). The fundraiser page remains open as of Monday, Dec. 31. Main contact for the fundraiser is Alyssa Koproski, a friend of the family.

As of Monday morning, a total of $7,535 had been donated by 161 people in six days.

The fundraiser page also provides an avenue for those who want to know what the family needs and where items can be taken, as well as what is already donated.

Area locations accepting donations for the Erdley family include: Big’s E’s Liquor in Sabetha, Sabetha Pizza Hut, Hearthside Country Store in Sabetha and PRTS in Hiawatha. The family attends Crossroads Wesleyan Church in Sabetha, so donations could be sent through the church as well.

The Erdleys have been overwhelmed with support and love since the fire occurred, and they expressed their appreciation in separate posts on Facebook.

“I don’t even know where to begin,” K. Erdley said. “The love and generosity shown by people I don’t even know is nothing short of amazing. We have a place to stay for as long as we need. We have had so many wonderful blessings and we are on our way back from this.”

“Thank you all for your prayers, kind words and assistance of all kinds,” A. Erdley said. “People ask me all the time why I’ve never really left here… quite frankly I feel the best of humanity is home grown right here and where else would I rather be? Nowhere.”

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