LAKE CITY - Just hours after fire destroyed a Lake City home and killed four people, including three children, the small Calhoun County community came together in an outpouring of support for the family.
Tony Pierson and Kim Kraft, of Lake City, lost their three children: Tyra Pierson, 22; Madison Pierson, 8; and Wyatt Pierson, 3; and their 10-month-old grandson, Xavier Pierson. They also lost their home and all of their belongings.
Both Pierson and Kraft were reportedly working an overnight shift at their jobs in nearby Carroll when the fire broke out.
-Messenger photo by Emilie Nelson-Jenson
Gert Hying, works at the counter of the Calhoun County Variety Store behind a donation can for Tony Pierson and Kim Kraft, who lost their home, three children and a grandchild in a house fire early Tuesday morning.
By Tuesday afternoon, an account for monetary donations for the family was opened at the local branch of United Bank of Iowa, and Gus Macke, owner of Macke Motors in Lake City, found the family a rental home. The auto dealership also began accepting donations of household goods to furnish the home.
"They had actually stopped in to get a key to a vehicle and Gus had the rental home and we started taking donations to furnish the house," said Macke's daughter-in-law, Krissi Macke, who helped organize the household goods drive. "We got the word out, put it on our Facebook page, and people were telling their relatives and friends."
Tuesday evening, the family was still in need of most furniture, toiletries and kitchen items, but by Wednesday morning their material needs had been fulfilled, Macke said.
"It didn't take long and people were calling to see what the family needed and what they could do to help," she said. "Everyone really pulled together and we furnished a whole house for them in less than one day."
Macke doesn't know the family personally, she said, but in times of tragedy the community always pulls together to help out.
"Our town has a big heart," she said. "Whenever there is tragedy, someone is always there for you ready to help out. We come together in times like these."
Because the need has been met for supplying household goods, Macke encouraged people to make monetary donations to the fund at United Bank of Iowa or in the donation can set up at Macke Motors.
"They still need monetary donations," she said. "There are things they will need to get and they have four funerals to plan."
The tragedy hit close to home, she said.
"My kids told me, they rode the school bus every day with Maddy, the 8-year-old," said Macke.
Gert Hying, co-owner of the Calhoun County Variety Store in downtown Lake City, said she provided a gift certificate to the store for the family to come in and purchase basic necessities.
She also set up a can for donations at the check-out counter.
"We just set it out this morning," Hying said. "I called Krissi (Macke) this morning to see what they might need and that was all taken care of so we put out a can to accept donations."
Hying said she is proud of the town.
"Everyone is always so supportive and helpful in any way they can be," she said. "This town has been through some tragic things this year and we always pull together and help each other out."
Linda Heisterkamp, an employee at Calhoun County Variety said the fire has been an "eye opening" experience.
"It's one of those things that really makes you stop and think," she said. "It's tragic, but you always have that 'it can't happen to me' thought. It's so close to home."
The fire is believed to have been caused by a faulty wire to an overhead living room lamp that ignited a nearby sofa.