Two House Fires Devastate Greenville Family

Posted at 8:35 PM, Mar 12, 2013
and last updated 2013-03-12 23:12:22-04

GREENVILLE, Mich.– A West Michigan family is in need of everything as they try to rebuild their lives following a double house fire in less than a month.

What’s inside four hotel walls is all the Portell family has after fire destroyed everything in their home, twice.

“There was just flames coming from the basement and so I got all the kids from all levels of the house and ran out,” said Melissa Portell. “The kids were all scared. I grabbed the dog and we just ran out with no shoes, no coats.”

An electrical fire destroyed the inside of their first home in Trufant, February 18th. Melissa and her husband, Jeremy, moved what little they had left into a hotel room. But then, it got even worse. Just days after getting settled in to a rental home, it went up in flames, too. The Portell’s blame it on furnace maintenance work.

“You have nothing from one fire. Then you move to a house thinking everything will start settling down, and you go back to having nothing again,” said Melissa. “Four days later. With four kids. It’s almost like a death because now we’re right back where we were. You have nothing.”

The Portell’s have just been trying to get on with their everyday lives, between school for the kids and work at a hospital and dairy farm.

While losing two homes is devastating, the family is thankful to have each other. But, times have been difficult for Melissa, who is still recovering after a stroke eight years ago, and now losing precious, family pictures to fire.

“Our little one keeps asking, ‘can I just go home now? When can we go home?’ Do you know how much that breaks your heart?” said Melissa.

The family said they will try to rebuild their first home, which has to be completely gutted. Once that works starts, they are told it will be about six months before they can move back in.

For now, the family is in need of everything, from basic toiletries to clothing, shoes and bedding for kids, ages eight to 15, as well as adults.

Items can be dropped off at the AmericInn Lodge and Suites, located at 2525 W Washington St, Greenville, MI 48838.

Also, Calvary Baptist Church in Greenville is accepting donations in their welcome center. That is located at 12501 Montcalm Ave NE, Greenville, MI 48838.

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