Smoke and memories |

Smoke and memories

Reid Williams
Melanie Morgan, front, and her sister-in-law Monique Dozier, struggle with a box of belongings in the charred kitchen of the Morgans' Creekside Drive home Saturday. Volunteers turned out to help the family salvage possessions after a Tuesday morning fire burned the fourplex.

FRISCO – The ash-stained carpet under their feet was squishing and soggy, but their spirits were not dampened.

About a dozen volunteers came to the aid of the Morgan family Saturday, helping the Frisco clan reclaim what they could from the charred remains of their Creekside Drive home. The labor of neighbors was one of sadness and optimism.

The Morgans, Gary and Melanie and their four children, awoke in the early hours of Tuesday morning after being roused by a tenant in a nearby unit of the fourplex to find the building quickly being consumed by fire. Firefighters were able to bring the blaze under control hours later, but not before flames destroyed most of the structure.

Since Tuesday morning, Melanie Morgan said, she and her husband have been swept up in a whirlwind of looking after their children, arranging to relocate the family and dealing with insurance company employees. But Saturday, Morgan exuded a positive air and spoke with optimism.

“Things come and go,” Morgan said, tipping a glass candlebox that had filled with firefighters’ water in the bedroom of her daughter, Brittany. “It’s gone. So, what do you do? You start over.”

Most everything the family owned was destroyed by the fire or ruined by the smoke and water. The living room of the home was quiet Saturday except for the dripping of water and the chatter of a speaking electronic child’s toy. But elsewhere in the home, friends and family helping to box up belongings and sift through debris found surprises.

In the basement, where the family had a room dedicated to storage, many things survived. Twelve-year-old Kenyon Fredericks, a friend of Brittany Morgan, stood in her room passing items out to other volunteers through a window.

Fredericks said comic books had survived, along with other toys. Pictures pinned to the walls were wet, but still looked OK, he said. Mostly, Fredericks said, he was happy his friend and her family were unhurt.

“Somebody could have died,” he said. “It’s kind of scary.”

Investigators from Lake Dillon Fire-Rescue continue to investigate the blaze. As of Thursday, they had ruled out any accidental causes. Arson remains a possibility, although investigators won’t formally call it that unless laboratory analyses can show “malicious intent” at the fire’s source and a suspect is found. Frisco police have no suspects yet.

The volunteer effort drew business owners, too. Winds of Change Bookstore owner Maureen O’Keefe said the Morgans are good customers of hers who recently helped her organize a party for the release of the latest Harry Potter installment. O’Keefe, with ash smudged on her work gloves and clothes, said she felt compelled to help.

“When something like this happens, you gotta show up,” she said.

Morgan said the family will dry out some of the goods and take them to a Willowbrook home where they will temporarily reside. Some appliances survived, some food in the kitchen and some family memorabilia. Occasionally, there are let-downs. Morgan described taking a CD player to the new home only to discover that, while the outside showed no damage, the inside of the CD player was melted and full of ash.

It will take a long time to recover, Morgan said, especially for the children. Her 2-year-old son keeps saying “the house has an owie,” and when he saw pictures of the home in the newspaper he clutched it to his chest. Morgan said she and her husband are steeling themselves for the challenge of helping their children adapt to a new beginning.

The bright side, she said, is the community. Her co-workers at Summit Cove Elementary have been extremely supportive, as have neighbors and friends, Morgan said.

“I can’t believe it,” she said. “We have a lot of people to thank.”

Reid Williams can be reached at (970) 668-3998, ext. 237, or

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