Friends, neighbors and family members are rallying to support a Brookfield family whose home at 3308 Sunnyside Ave. was severely damaged by fire on the afternoon of June 25.
Ann and Mike Kissel and their two sons, 8-year-old Nathan and 13-year-old Ryan, were on a family camping vacation at Mount Rushmore in South Dakota when the fire struck. Contacted by neighbors, they packed up and drove back to Brookfield, arriving Friday night.
The family is reportedly seeking temporary housing while they wait six to nine months until they can move back in.
“The community support has been remarkable and humbling,” Mike Kissel said.
A fundraising page has been set up at YouCaring.com (www.youcaring.com/ann-mike-ryan-nathan-kissel-380245#) to raise money for the family’s expenses with a goal of $15,000.00.
Also, Brookfield businessman Keith Brennan is accepting donations at his For the Birds store at 9207 Broadway Ave., and donations can be mailed to The Kissel Family Fund in care of Ann Kissel’s father, Fran Horvath, 623 S. Home Ave., Park Ridge, Illinois, 60068.
Horvath marveled at the outpouring of support his daughter and her family have received.
“It’s a comfortable feeling knowing there are still good people in this world,” he said. “This is a very fine example that, even in this time of hate and crime, people help their neighbors.
“We’re very grateful. People have been so supportive. We want to thank everybody for their support.”
Horvath said a group of volunteers helped his daughter and their family salvage water-damaged family photos, separating them and setting them out to dry.
Brennan, who also has pledged to donate a portion of his sales to the Kissel family, said response has been “very good” in the first few days, mostly gift cards and a few blankets.
He admitted that he is not familiar with the Kissel family, but Brennan did not hesitate when one of his customers asked for his help.
“She told me what happened and asked me if I would serve as a drop-off location,” Brennan said. “In addition to doing that, I emailed all my customers to let them know and told them we would donate 15 percent.”
Around 2:30 p.m. on June 25, 10-year-old twins Clara and Stella Pizana were enjoying the swimming pool in their backyard in the 3300 block of Sunnyside Avenue with Marco Soto when Stella saw smoke coming from her neighbor’s home two doors away. She went inside her house and told her 15-year-old sister, Emma, what she saw. Emma came outside to investigate, saw the smoke and called 911.
“I’m just glad my daughter had enough sense to call 911 right away,” said the girls’ mother, Rebecca, who was not home at the time.
The back end, roof and second floor were extensively damaged. The rest of the house suffered smoke and water damage. More than a dozen fire departments responded to assist Brookfield firefighters with the blaze.
Justin Lyons of the 3300 block of Vernon Avenue said there were two fire trucks in front of the house when he came on the scene at about 2:45 p.m. He said there were flames visible and coming from the back of the home.
Emergency vehicles’ sirens and smoke attracted a crowd of about 40, mostly from the neighborhood. The smoke reportedly was visible as far as six blocks away.
Catherine Plunkett, who lives across the street, said she was inside her home when she heard sirens. When she looked out, she saw smoke and flames.
Two firefighters from the Riverside Fire Department were stationed on the roof of the home directly north of the fire scene, pouring water on the flames. That home, separated from the fire scene only by a narrow gangway, and the house on the other side did not suffer any apparent damage.
Brookfield Fire Chief Patrick Lenzi said that the cause of the fire is still under investigation. Officials believe the fire started in the attic, Lenzi said.
“Our best estimate is that it was somewhere in the attic,” Lenzi said. “But it’s really hard to pinpoint.”
Bob Uphues contributed to this report.