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Genoa family thankful for area’s support after blaze

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GENOA – Resident Chris Rasmussen has received money to help his family after their house was severely damaged in a fire Friday, but very little has been spent.

“We were overwhelmed [last] weekend. We have now just started to [gather supplies],” Rasmussen said. “We have hardly spent anything because we are still wrapping our heads around it.”

Rasmussen said he was thankful to police, firefighters and others who responded to a fire coming from the roof of his home at 16625 Route 72 about 4:45 a.m. Friday. In addition to Genoa-Kingston firefighters, departments in Sycamore, DeKalb, Hampshire, Boone, Cherry Valley and Pingree Grove responded.

Rasmussen lived at the house with his girlfriend, Martha Miller, and her three children: Morgan, 13; Dallas, 12; and Kyle, 10. Rasmussen’s son, Dennis, 9, also lives with them.

Rasmussen said the family was sleeping soundly when Morgan went downstairs and saw the closet was on fire. She awoke the family by screaming, and Rasmussen said he looked inside the closet and saw embers. He went to get a bucket of water to put it out, but Martha Miller screamed for him to get outside.

“My girlfriend yelled for me to get out of the house, and when I got out, I saw the 30-foot flames coming out of the roof,” Rasmussen said. “The roof was already gone.”

No one was injured.

Rasmussen said they have salvaged very little from the house; the fire completely destroyed the family’s rooms on the second floor. What wasn’t destroyed was at the mercy of water damage from the firefighters’ hoses.

“There’s no way they could ever fix that,” said Rasmussen, who used to work as a carpenter. “I’m a carpenter; it’s completely gone.”

Genoa-Kingston Fire Chief Bruce Kozlowski said the state fire marshal is still investigating the cause of the fire, but he added that it does not appear to be suspicious.

Rasmussen has received money from the local Red Cross and other donors. Meanwhile, he’s grateful for the neighbors and other community members who have been dropping off plastic bags of clothing.

Since the fire, Rasmussen’s family has been living at his mom’s house, which is also in Genoa, but he said there is not enough room for them. They are looking for other places to live.

“We will have to find someplace else and rebuild,” Rasmussen said.

A Facebook group has been started to help Rasmussen and his family. Called “Donations for Martha and Chris,” the group had 167 members as of Monday evening and features different people posting different ways and suggestions to help them out.

Rasmussen said he knew of two Genoa locations that people can drop off supplies at: Trinity Lutheran Church, 33930 N. State Road, and Tobinson’s Ace Hardware, 361 Sycamore Road. People interested in donating can also reach Rasmussen at 815-355-8839.

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