Community Helping Sand Springs Couple After Tragic Fire


Monday, February 24th 2014, 6:51 pm
By: Emory Bryan


The community of Sand Springs is reaching out to help a family who lost their home in a fire that also damaged the family business over the weekend.

The building is boarded up in the front and fenced off in the back to keep people out, but there's not much left in the building. An older couple lived upstairs and worked downstairs, so the fire has taken a big toll.

2/23/2014 Related Story: Sand Springs Couple Rescued From Downtown Business Fire

The clean-out is under way from the damaged offices that survived the fire. They mostly have water damage, and with some work, they'll be able to reopen. At Doug's Rebuilders, there's smoke and water damage to the small engine repair shop, where Tammy Willemstein works with her parents, Doug and Lois Harris.

The Harris couple lived on the top floor of the building that burned. Lois is out of the hospital, but her husband is not.

"They're doing a lot of testing on his heart, but I think he's going to be okay," Willemstein said.

The fire early Sunday gutted the two-story building where the Harris' lived, and left both buildings on either side with heavy smoke damage. But the two people, who were inside when it started, made it out.

"My mom said she woke up when he was yelling, ‘Lois, help me, help me,'" Willemstein said

The smoke woke them up, but the fire had them trapped on the roof of their shop until firefighters arrived. The building they lived in collapsed in the back and will have to be demolished.

Now the Harris's children and grandchildren are helping spread the word about a pancake breakfast fundraiser at the Boom A Rang diner, and they're thanking the community for what's been done already.

Help The Harris Family

Their granddaughter, Samantha Hanlon, said, "The response has been unbelievable, amazing. From people offering places to stay, or donating money and clothing, it's been amazing."

The shop can reopen once it's cleaned up, and Willemstein said her father is eager to get back in there.

"The home, he feels lucky to get out, but he's such a workaholic and the people are such a part of his life, I think he's really glad the shop is here so he has a place to go back to," Willemstein said.

The fundraiser is from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. this coming Sunday. The family said Doug Harris should he out of the hospital in a day or two.