MORRISON – Jaclyn Coffman-Sumner and her husband, Chuck Sumner, let the time get away from them during a weekend shopping trip last month at Walmart, where they spent the better part of 3 hours.
Shortly after 7 p.m. Jan. 20, they returned with their 4- and 7-year-old sons to their Yorktown Road home east of Morrison. It was engulfed in flames. Firefighters already had arrived.
“It was so cold,” said Coffman-Sumner, 30, who works at the Morrison post office. “I felt so bad for the firemen. They had to truck in so much water.”
The blaze destroyed the house. Firefighters told her it started somewhere between the dryer and the wood burner, but no cause has been determined, she said. About 300 books in that area of the house fueled the fire, she said.
The family lost three dogs, Harley, Bean and Sam, and two cats, Grimm and Brutus, in the blaze.
Coffman-Sumner called herself the “ultimate collector of my family’s treasures.” Those items, too, are no more. The blaze consumed family albums, old letters and plenty of artifacts from her grandparents’ time, including all of the unopened liquor bottles her grandfather collected around the globe during World War II.
Those are hard things to lose, her mother, Jo-Lea Coffman-Bender, said. Other material goods, she said, can be replaced.
The family has insurance but not enough to build anything like the big two-story house they had. They plan to build a new house on the 2 acres. A separate garage was unscathed.
“We’re going to keep the land,” Coffman-Sumner said. “It took 5 long, hard years to find that house. We wanted it so bad. We’ve got great neighbors. I wouldn’t leave the school district to save my life.”
They lived there 3 years. For now, they are renting in Morrison.
Coffman-Sumner said many sent prayers to her family after the fire. Instead, she recommends people pray for the family of Jessica Strader, the 29-year-old former Sterling teacher who died Sunday after a battle with breast cancer. Strader and Coffman-Sumner were high school classmates.
“I would like everyone to know all of the wonderful things people have done since the fire,” she said.