LYNDON – They moved from a Prophetstown apartment into their very own mobile home in Lyndon just 4 months before that awful fire ravaged the downtown, destroying the building in which they had lived.
Everyone said they were lucky, getting out when they did.
Thursday, their luck ran out.
Jeff and Sherry Walters and their 28-year-old son, Justin Keefer, lost their new home, all their possessions and their “babies” – two little terriers, a kitten and a gecko – when a gas leak caused their furnace to explode, Jeff Walters said Sunday.
The resulting inferno took it all.
No one was home at the time. Justin was a few homes down, visiting his best friend, Lex Pope, and Sherry and Jeff were visiting Chad Ivey, president of the Lost Prophets, a Lyndon social club they belong to that holds benefits for community members in need.
Like Jeff, Sherry and Justin, now.
“The only thing they came out with was the clothes on their backs,” Pope said. They had no insurance.
Sherry works at Hardee’s in Rock Falls; Justin and Jeff are unable to work, Pope said.
The Lost Prophets are planning a benefit March 8 to help the family. In the meantime, the Walters are staying with the Iveys, and Justin is staying with Pope.
“The hardest part for us was losing our babies – everything else can be replaced,” Jeff said. “If it wasn’t for our community and our club, we’d be lost. We wouldn’t know what to do.”
It’s not the first time fire has scorched their lives bare. About 10 years ago, the family came home from a Fourth of July celebration to find that kids lighting fireworks on the porch had set their Arkansas home ablaze, Jeff said. That, too, was a total loss.
They have their eye on another home in the Valley Vista Mobile Home Park, but they need to raise $1,000 for the down payment. And they are responsible for cleaning up the ruins on their lot, for which they still must pay rent, Jeff said.
“We’re getting kind of overwhelmed,” he said.
A benefit for the Walters family will be held March 8 at Bears Showtown USA and other bars in Lyndon and will include a blind dart tournament, a pool tournament, food, bands and more. Call the bar at 815-778-0159 or go to its Facebook page for all the details.
DezeRae Gladhill, niece of the Walters, is taking monetary donations at the Shell station at 1111 W. Rock Falls Road (U.S. Route 30) in Rock Falls. She can be reached there at 815-626-4169.
Lex Pope also is accepting donations for the family. Justin Keefer wears size 34-32 pants, medium shirts and size 9 or 9.5 shoes. His parents have received clothes, but could use household items. Pope can be reached at 815-973-0271.