Denver family of seven ‘holding strong’ after home is destroyed by fire

By on August 24, 2016
The Wentz family, who now live in a hotel after losing their home to fire on Aug. 12, return to their destroyed residence for another look. From left: Rayne, 16, Kaleb, 17, Aiden, 13, Jen, Chelsea, 15, Jaden, 13, and John.

The Wentz family, who now live in a hotel after losing their home to fire on Aug. 12, return to their destroyed residence for another look. From left: Rayne, 16, Kaleb, 17, Aiden, 13, Jen, Chelsea, 15, Jaden, 13, and John.

Three dressers and one bed.

That’s all the Wentz family is left with after a fire ravaged their Denver home last week.

The family of seven — parents John and Jenn, both 39, and their children, Caleb, 17, Rayne, 16, Chelsea, 14, and 13-year-old twins Aiden and Jaden — are close.

They routinely eat dinner together. And despite losing their home in last Friday’s fire, the family — including their potbellied pig Lulu — is continuing the dinner routine in a Denver hotel.

It’s a tight fit, but the Wentzes are making do scattered around one of their two their hotel rooms eating casseroles prepared by family and friends.

“We are holding strong as a family, and the community has been amazing,” Jenn Wentz said.

Caleb was home alone when an electronic malfunction in a dryer started the fire that destroyed the rear of the home and damaged most of the belongings inside, John Wentz said.

Caleb was able to escape unharmed along with eight of the family pets — three guinea pigs, two dogs, one cat, one turtle and Lulu. Unfortunately, two of their dogs died in the blaze.

“The most difficult part has been the loss of Lily and Emma,” Jenn Wentz said. “We miss them more than words can express.”

Until they find a place to stay, Lulu is staying with the family at the pet-friendly hotel, while the Wentzes’ other pets are being cared for at a local vet.

“My wife and I have always loved pets,” John Wentz said. “The kids inherited that.”

As the family continues to adjust to its temporary living arrangements, the kids are faced with getting ready to go back to school on the heels of losing most everything they owned.

Classes at Cocalico School District, where all five Wentz kids attend, begin on Aug. 29.

Friends and family have been helping the family members get back on their feet.

Along with preparing meals, friends and family have collected clothing, toiletries, and money for the Wentzes.

A donation spot was set up at the Ephrata Rec Center, where Jenn Wentz works as a preschool teacher.

A GoFundMe page for the family has raised $2,710 of a $3,000 goal as of 12:30 p.m. Friday.

The school district said it has resources available if the family needs them, including transportation to and from school if it’s a temporary home is located in a different school district.

“The important thing is for the kids to continue to be in school and have what they need to be in school,” Cocalico Superintendent Dr. Ella Musser said.

John Wentz said his family is grateful for all the support it has received.

“We’re grateful for all the firefighters and the traffic people that were out there (the day of the fire),” he said. “We’re thankful for everybody that’s done so much already.”

John Wentz works for Vision Tech Electronics in Stevens. He repairs electronics damaged by fire and water.

He said it’s been a challenge staying away from his home since he returned to work Tuesday because he knows the work that needs to be done to restore it.

However, after sifting through the debris and collecting his family’s charred, smoke-damaged electronics, he discovered nothing was salvageable.

“It’s different when it’s your home,” he said.

But he is optimistic about how long it will take for their home to be rebuilt.

Despite being told it could take up to one year to rebuild, he is convinced his family will be back in their home in as little as six months.

“Although it’s devastating when it happens to you, I know what the end product is going to be,” he said.

“I’ve told my kids, ‘In a year, this is going to be just a memory. We are going to move on and start our new normal.’ “

Lindsey Blest is a staff writer at LNP.

 

One Comment

  1. Damien

    September 15, 2016 at 12:08 pm

    Man i fell so bad i new them i also lived right next to them. i moved before i happend.

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