Benefit helps house fire victims
Jennifer Lee Preyss
Aug. 14, 2011 at 3:14 a.m.
Christy Orsak and Carol Blair have been best friends since childhood. So when Blair learned her friend's house burned down two weeks ago, she immediately wanted to help.
"She's my best friend in the whole world, and I wanted to make sure I did everything I could to help get them back on their feet," the 35-year-old Blair said. "When I heard about the fire, all I could think about was, 'How can I help her?'"
In less than two weeks, Blair, a resident of Florida, showed up in Victoria after hearing the news of her friend's loss and organized a charity fundraiser at Downtown Bar and Grill - complete with live music performances, spaghetti dinner plates and a silent auction - to raise money for the Orsak family.
"When she called me on the phone and said she was doing this for me, I started crying," Christy Orsak said.
Emotionally recalling the night of the fire, Blair said she was worried about her friend and the family's safety.
"I love her and I could have lost her, and that scared the crap out of me," Blair said, her eyes welling with tears. "I couldn't stop thinking about that moment when I was waiting to hear if she was out of her house and OK. It was the longest two minutes of my life."
The Orsaks' home caught fire about 1 a.m. July 30 in the 2700 block of Leary Lane. Their three-bedroom mobile home ignited in their 13-year-old son Jacob Orsak's bedroom, when an exposed wire attached to a window air conditioning unit sparked the bed.
Aaron Orsak, 38, attempted to fight the fire himself before calling 911, but the flames quickly spread to 14-year-old daughter Victoria Orsak's room, and within minutes, smoke and fire spread to the master bedroom at the opposite end of the home.
"We lost about 50 percent of everything we own. And the house was a total loss after the fire and smoke damage," Aaron Orsak said.
The family also lost two pets in the fire, and third pet died from smoke inhalation days later.
Without home insurance, the Orsaks were unsure where they would come up with financial resources to start over.
But since the fire, monetary and in-kind donations from area donors have allowed the family to put a down-payment on a new mobile home.
"We're going to put the home on the same lot in our neighborhood. The kids wanted to stay where they were," Christy Orsak said. "There are no words to describe it. People I've never met before giving financial donations."
"And it comes with fire insurance, and we're putting fire extinguishers in every room," Aaron Orsak added, recalling the absence of fire extinguishers the night of the fire.
As of 9 p.m. Sunday, Blair's benefit raised about $1,600 for the family.
"We're very grateful for Carol and all our friends who pulled together to make this possible," Aaron Orsak said.
"It's been a stressful few weeks, but we're getting through it," Christy Orsak added.