Family recovers from fire in Dubuque - KWWL - Eastern Iowa Breaking News, Weather, Closings

Family recovers from fire in Dubuque

By Lauren Squires

DUBUQUE (KWWL) -- January is typically one of the busiest months for firefighters. But in Dubuque, December was the busiest they've ever seen. Firefighters responded to eleven structure fires. The cause has been identified on ten of those eleven fires.

But there is no common cause. Everything from a space heater to damaged extension cords, even one case of arson.

"She called and said 'I have some bad news but your apartment is on fire,'" said Kischel Harris.

That's the kind of news Kischel and Devlin Harris never thought they'd hear.

"You really don't think it's gonna happen to you. You hear about it happening to someone else, and you're heart goes out to them," said harris.

December 30th, 2008, an apartment on Bluff Street burned. Leaving this married couple and their two kids homeless.

"It was probably the worst month i can recall in all the years I've been on the department," said Mike McMahon, Assistant Fire Marshall.

The Harris' apartment was one of eleven structure fires in Dubuque, all in a months time.

"There just isn't one cause that we can warn everybody about. There's still a variety of things that we have year round," said McMahon.

The cause of this fire still remains under investigation. But when word spread of the Harris fire members of the Downtown Neighborhood Association reached out.

Within a few days the Harris family moved into a different apartment. In three weeks time people have donated two bedroom sets, a dining room set and these two couches. For now the couple is sleeping on this blow up mattress.

"We're kinda being restored and what we haven't gotten we know we're gonna get in the future," said Harris.

And when they least expected a fire, and lost so much, they find peace in the helpful hands of neighbors.

"We lost a lot of things but we gained much more," said Harris.

The Harris Family are members of the Downtown Neighborhood Council.  Both Kischel and her husband Devlin are members of the National Guard and their 2 children attend public school in Downtown Dubuque.

A number of items have been donated, but there is still a need for 2 twin mattresses and box springs.  Contact the Downtown Neighborhood Council if you have these items.

The Downtown Neighborhood Council has arranged for an account to be set up with Dubuque Bank & Trust in the name of Kischel Harris, donation account.  This account will be open and taking monetary donations from Friday Jan. 16th until February 16th

Online reporter: Lauren Squires

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