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'Everything is gone': Montana woman loses home of 42 years to fire

Cheri Home Damage
Posted at 7:55 AM, Mar 28, 2024

BILLINGS - A Billings woman is doing her best to pick up the pieces after losing her trailer home of more than 42 years in a fire.

The fire began in the Golden Meadows Mobile Home Park at Cheri Andersen's home last Friday at about 3 a.m. While no one was seriously injured, all of the family's personal belongings were destroyed.

"This was our home and everything is gone," Andersen said Wednesday morning. "I don't want to look at it. There's too many memories there."

Billings firefighters said the fire started in the family's nearby shed and quickly spread to the home, which was uninsured. The fire caused about $80,000 in damage to the home and another $10,000 in losses to personal property, according to a report from Billings Deputy Fire Marshal Andrew McLain.

Andersen raises two of her grandchildren, Brooklynn and Ashton Andersen, and expressed how fortunate they all were to make it out of the flames without serious injury.

"We all made it and that's what is most important," Cheri said.

But it's still a night that neither Brooklynn or Ashton will soon forget. Ashton is the one who saw the flames and had to quickly wake up his grandma and sister before it was too late.

"I was just in shock," Ashton recalled. "I wasn't sad or anything, I was just really stressed and worried. I just did what I thought in the moment was the best thing to do."

His quick thinking helped save lives, and Brooklyn recalls being emotional that night watching her home be engulfed by flames.

"I was scared, shocked, and really surprised that my home was burning down," Brooklyn said. "It was just a lot."

The family escaped the flames, but all they were able to save was the clothes on their backs. Cheri didn't even get her hearing aids or glasses out of the house in time.

"All I was able to get was a pair of pants and a sweatshirt," Cheri said. "I've lived here for 42 years so take from there. I mean it's everything I own."

Fortunately, the Andersen's neighbors didn't sit idly by. Carla Fahrenbruck and a few others quickly formed thisGoFundMe page to try and help the family get back on their feet.

"We just kept thinking 'Where is she going to go? What is she going to do?'" Fahrenbruck said. "If it were my family, I'd want someone to do the same thing. We made it the day after it happened."

It's a gesture that proved to be overwhelming to Cheri, who with tears in her eyes thanked Carla and all those that have helped her on Wednesday.

"You're an angel in disguise," Cheri said. "Thank you everybody for the donations. Every little bit helps."