Landlords raising money, donating land for family left homeless after fire

Posted at 3:58 PM, Mar 15, 2016
and last updated 2016-03-15 18:45:57-04

PIERSON TOWNSHIP, Mich. -- After a Pierson Township mother of five lost her home in a fire last Thursday, her landlords are searching for a contractor and donors to help replace their trailer and build a home.

Last Thursday, Lisa Zerba woke to flames in her home when her nephew came to her screaming "fire!" The fire started after 6 a.m. in the 21000 block of Pierson Road while Zerba, her two daughters, three members of her extended family, and two dogs were sleeping.

Everyone but one dog made it out safely, but with the clothing on their backs and a school bag.  Zerba's 15-year-old daughter, McKinzey, suffered second and third-degree burns and was in the hospital the day of the fire.

Tuesday was McKinzey's first day back to school and both she and her mother told FOX 17 they are incredibly grateful for an outpouring of support.

“I can’t believe all the support that’s out there; it’s like Christmas to be honest with you," said Zerba.

"When you see a Christmas time, you see all the miracles and all the goodness of everybody, well it’s been Christmas for us.”

Now living between family and friends' homes, Zerba's landlords Karen and Richard St. Denis started a GoFundMe page, hoping to raise money for their tenants of five years.

Beyond the expenses to get this family back on their feet, the St. Denis' told FOX 17 they are also hoping to find a contractor, builder or donors to help either donate a trailer or rebuild a home on this property.

They said they plan to donate this piece of land to Zerba and her family as soon as their insurance pays off their remaining mortgage.

“I would love to have a local contractor step forward and maybe spearhead the whole project, but find local businesses and/or individuals who would be willing to donate materials and labor to get this project going and off the ground for her," said Karen St. Denis.

"Lisa and her family lost everything, I mean right down to the pictures.”

Officials with the Sand Lake Fire Department believe the fire was caused by a worn out extension cord being used in the hallway of the trailer.

If you would like to help, or offer contracting experience or building materials to give the Zerbas a home, please email Karen St. Denis at: