An interview with South Barton fire victim

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by Tena Starr

SOUTH BARTON – Lois Lew’s house, a 60-year-old mobile home, was destroyed by fire Monday evening, and it wasn’t insured.  Yet, Ms. Lew considers herself kind of a lucky woman.

She had stopped at the laundromat after work – her job is at RDI in Newport – and got home about five minutes after someone called 911.  “It was on fire,” she said, adding that she has no idea what happened.

“I rushed up to get the dogs out, but the dogs had already found their own way out,” she said.  She has four dogs that a neighbor is temporarily caring for.

It’s certainly not a piece of luck to have your home burn down, especially if there’s no insurance.

But, Ms. Lew noted, since she’d been to the laundromat, she had a week and a half’s worth of clean clothes in her car.  She also had her driver’s license and credit cards, things that people keep in their wallets and take with them when they leave home.

“In my case, since I was in the car, of course I had my driver’s license with me.  I didn’t lose any of those documents.  And I have trouble walking, I need a cane.  I would have had trouble getting out of a burning building.”

Ms. Lew said she planned on visiting the property this week to see if anything is salvageable and to look at the outbuildings to see if one would be suitable for the dogs.

As for herself, she’s not sure.  “I haven’t quite figured out what I’m going to do yet.”  She’s thinking about trying to round up the money for a down payment on a camper.  “I own the property,” she said. “But right now, I’m just working on one problem at a time.”

She said the Red Cross did provide a little money to help with the motel bill and other necessities.

There’s also a sheep on the property, Ms. Lew said, though it hadn’t yet been found.  “She’s kind of skittish.  She may have been in the woods.”

She kind of chuckled when she said she’ll have to call Direct TV and inform them they should no longer bill her since she now has neither a TV nor the receiver to get service.

The people at work have been “just wonderful,” Ms. Lew said.  “My boss brought me food and toiletries and clothes.  And they were talking about starting up a GoFundMe page.  It makes you feel not quite so lonely.”

“The thing is I was never in danger,” Ms. Lew said.  “I’m alive, the four dogs are alive.  Everything else you can buy.”

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