Hillsboro family loses everything in house fire

It is unusual to hear a siren in town in Hillsboro in the middle of the afternoon and it is almost unheard of to hear multiple sirens for an extended amount of time. So residents knew that something serious was happening on Thursday afternoon when multiple sirens could be heard and fire trucks were seen heading down Ash street where they stopped in front of a home on Ash in between C and D streets.

Sherry King, who rents the home, was at work across town at Kid’s Connection, a daycare run by Hillsboro Mennonite Brethren Church (HMBC). Her two sons, ages 10 and 13, were at the home with an adult when the fire happened. King was able to leave work and be with her boys as soon as she received word of the fire. Other family came immediately as well.

“I’m so proud of my youngest nephew who ran across a burning kitchen and upstairs to get his older brother who had no idea the house was on fire. Their mom taught them what to do in an emergency and he did it. That was so brave,” said King’s sister, Angie Zaragoza.

The boys got out with only the clothes they were wearing. They didn’t even have shoes on. Firefighters were able to get the fire out before the fire killed their turtles which the family has had for 12 years. Unfortunately, the family’s dog did not make it.

“They couldn’t even find the keys to their van, but someone is coming today to make a new one for them,” said Zaragoza.

It isn’t completely clear yet as to what caused the fire.

Upon arrival I was told by the occupant that it was a grease fire that quickly got out of control,” said Hillsboro Fire Chief Ben Steketee. “However, the Kansas State Fire Marshal’s Investigator has not released his report to me yet, so I can’t say for sure.”

The firefighters arrived promptly and worked hard to put the fire out.

The Marion County Fire Chief’s Association has requested that Marion Communications automatically call out two additional fire departments for every structure fire that is reported in the county, and Marion Communications does that very well. This fire was a good example of that system working. These types of fires progress very quickly and Hillsboro Fire Department was in for quite a fight. Soon help arrived from Marion and then from Peabody and the fire was quickly put out with their help, and then they stayed to help with some of the other unpleasant tasks that needed to be done. Thank you to those departments and to all of the departments in Marion County for dropping everything to lend a hand when it’s needed,” said Steketee.

Co-workers at Kid’s Connection and HMBC immediately began working on donations, and anyone can give to the family through the church.

Others have also been helping the family since the moment the fire happened.

“Our pastor at the Lutheran church came right over and got pizza for everyone. He also paid for the hotel for several nights,” said Zaragoza. “People have donated many things. My sister is overwhelmed with the generosity and asked me to let everyone know that our family is very grateful for everyone who has donated and helped out.”

King and her two children will be staying with her mom for the time being although they are making plans to find housing as soon as they can since her mom has ongoing health issues and recently got out of the hospital.

USD 410 has also risen to the occasion and shown their support. Principal Clint Corby had teachers come to him saying that they wanted to help. Through their efforts, a fund has been set up at Emprise Bank for anyone wishing to donate. Anyone can simply walk-in or call and make a donation to the Sherry King Fire Benefit Fund.