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A military family that lost the majority of its belongings in a roadside trailer fire said they are thankful today for the love poured on them by strangers as they transition to a new city.
Daniel and Carollynne Moreno, newly transplanted in Elizabethtown, were en route to close on a house on Nicholas Ridge Drive last week when they received a call from the driver of the moving van. He informed them the trailer he was hauling burst into flames after a tire caught fire, destroying most of their belongings.
Daniel Moreno, a staff sergeant with the U.S. Army, had been reassigned from Fort Leonard Wood, Mo., to Fort Knox and was making the move to Elizabethtown.
“Disbelief,” Carollynne said of the phone call.
“Yeah, I thought it was a joke,” Daniel said. “But he reassured me it was not a joke.”
The couple, who have a 6-year-old son and a 3-year-old daughter, pulled over to a gas station to collect their thoughts — struck dumb by the sudden turn of events.
“(It was) heartbreaking truthfully,” Daniel said. “There was stuff in there that can’t be replaced: Pictures, awards, memories. No amount of money is going to be able to replace that.”
Daniel said they had roughly 11,000 pounds of personal belongings to move. Moreno completed a partial move of his own, taking 3,000 pounds with him. The rest of their possessions were in the trailer and most were damaged beyond repair.
The company told the couple a small portion of items were salvaged from the blaze and will be shipped to their home. The couple has not yet received the items, uncertain what was recovered.
But the family knows furniture and larger pieces were destroyed. Another family’s possessions were on the same trailer, he said.
The Morenos are unsure what caused the fire, which happened outside of Kentucky. The driver tried to fight the fire with an extinguisher and a volunteer fire department responded, running out of water in an effort to extinguish the blaze, they said.
Daniel said the house closing was bittersweet in wake of the news as they weighed the title of homeowners with the grief of their loss.
Marilyn McLane, the couple’s real estate agent, said her heart dropped when she got the call from the family about the fire.
“You can lose your furniture, but some things can’t be replaced,” she said. “It’s just sad.”
But the family has found the warmth of the holidays shining through the actions of other residents just days before Thanksgiving. Several American Legion posts around the state have come to the family’s aid, donating pots and pans, dishes, toys, clothes and other household goods needed. Daniel said his mother-in-law, Jane McKnight, is president of the Department of Kentucky American Legion Auxiliary.
Donna Thurman, chaplain for the Department of Kentucky American Legion, said the organization has a group of women lined up to help families in need, particularly active-duty soldiers. She said they provided some linens, silverware, dishes and pots and pans.
Neighbors and friends also have stepped up to assist and the couple is working on an insurance settlement of roughly $29,500.
The Morenos have been itemizing everything they believe was lost, but Daniel said it is too hard to process with two young children to care for and pain associated with the loss. The family received an advance from the company to purchase basics, including furniture.
“It’s just too stressful and hard because every time we think about the items we lost it’s just gut-wrenching,” he said.
Daniel said they would rather move on with their lives than re-live the stress each day.
The Morenos could be angry or glum, but they said they have nothing but appreciation in their hearts toward the strangers opening their arms in a dark hour. Likewise, the family had nothing but praise for the moving company, which is helping them rebuild.
“There’s no enemies in this situation,” Daniel said. “It was just an accident.”
McLane said she was impressed with the family’s strength.
“They feel blessed to be in a community where there are so many nice people doing caring things,” she said.
Marty Finley can be reached at (270) 505-1762 or email@example.com.