Benefit set for fire victims

CHAMPION – Ronald Wolfe Sr. said that losing his pictures, videos and other personal belongings in the Feb. 4 fire that destroyed his Mahoning Avenue home has been one of the hardest realities to face.

“That’s the stuff you can’t replace. We can replace the TVs and furniture and everything, but I can’t replace the photographs,” Wolfe said.

”My wife was very creative and made a lot of crafts. She made such beautiful things. I can’t replace any of that. That’s the hard part,” he said.

Wolfe, 71, lost his wife, Peggy, to leukemia on Dec. 19. They lived in the house at 6270 Mahoning Ave. for 50 years.

On Feb. 4, the smoke detectors awakened him about 3:30 a.m. He quickly woke his 12-year-old granddaughter, Danielle Adams, whom he has been raising since she was 2.

“All we could do was run outside barefoot in our pajamas,” he said. “We’re fortunate to be alive. That’s what really counts.”

He said that he and Danielle, a fifth-grader at Champion Middle School, are trying to get back on their feet.

Family and community members are doing what they can to help.

A fundrasier, Hope From Ashes Benefit, has been scheduled for tonight at Champion Skate, 5040 Mahoning Ave., Champion. Hours are 6 to 8 p.m. The $5 donation per person includes skates or play.

“We’re just trying to do something to help them get through a little easier, if that’s possible,” said Jennifer Brainard, who owns the skating rink with her husband, Keith, a relative of Wolfe’s. “They’ve already been through much. It’s heartbreaking.”

Wolfe, who is self-employed in real estate and remodeling, said he has some insurance, but that things have been pretty tight financially. He has been staying at his son’s home since the fire.

“It’s been hard waiting for everything to go through,” he said. “But people have been wonderful. Danielle has received so many clothes I don’t know what we’re going to do with all of them. We’re very thankful. People have been a really big help.”

The cause of the fire has not been determined, he said, but it started in the garage. Initially, fire crews had a difficult time fighting the blaze because nearby hydrants were frozen.

“If they had gotten water right away, they might have saved at least part of the house and some of our possessions,” Wolfe said. “It was frustrating. But we’re alive and that’s the main thing.

”Danielle is still traumatized. It’s devastating. You don’t know how it is until you go through it.”