Family of 12 lost everything in fire, trying to rebuild life

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ST. LOUIS – A family of 12 barely escaped an unexpected fire that burned down their home and everything in it.

On May 26th, the Fisher family woke up in the middle of the night to their home engulfed in flames. Tony Fisher was left with no other option than to jump off the second story balcony while his fiancé, Arah Anderson, dropped their 10 children down to him before climbing down to safety herself.

Thankfully, everyone made it out with no injuries, but they lost everything inside of the home.

“That home meant everything to us,” said Arah Anderson. “I remember when we got it, I knew it was exactly the house for us.”

Just two days after the fire an anonymous member of the community extended a fully funded one-week hotel stay to the Fisher family to give them time to find a more stable place to stay. It has been three months since the fire and Arah, Tony, and their 10 children are still in that hotel.

Tony and Arah built their family in that south St. Louis home. They made memories, hosted family holidays, and watched their kids play and make friends in the neighborhood. Arah said she still cries sometimes when she thinks about all of the family portraits and pictures of her children that she’s lost. She said she misses the safety and security of their own home.

They are running out of funds, hope, and places to turn for help.

Arah said, “I’m up every day. Dads up every day. We’re trying to find a place. We’re putting in applications. The problem is we have 10 children, so there’s not really a place for us to safely fit occupancy.”

The occupancy limit for a family of 12 in the St. Louis region is a minimum six-bedroom home. Zenique Gardner Perry is one of Arah’s closest friends who has been helping the family since their home burned down.

That’s very challenging to find unless you find a house that’s well beyond their means, but finding an LRA home – one of the homes from the land bank here in St. Louis – does make owning a home that fits the family reasonable and achievable,” said Perry.  

Tony and Arah were hopeful they would close on an LRA home they had their hearts set on for several weeks but were ultimately outbid by an out of town investor. The couple is still working tirelessly to find a new place to call their own.

“It did push us back. It was very depressing to know that we are this close, and we are in the need. That’s really the only way. There is not a space for us, so we are going to have to create a space,” said Arah.

Arah and Zenique told me the kids are having a hard time managing their stress right now. The only home they’ve known has burned down, they lost their clothes and toys, we are in the middle of a global pandemic, and virtual learning for 10 children is hard to manage in a small hotel room.

The Fisher family is now looking for help. They are working on securing another LRA home but will have to build additional space for their large family in order to meet occupancy space requirements. If you can donate any furniture, building materials, volunteer time, or talent to help them build their new home they are asking you to contact them on their Facebook page at Fisher Fire Restoration.

Clothes and shoes for children from ages one to 19 would help as well. They also have a GoFundMe you could donate to help them buy materials.

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