A family whose home burned four days before Christmas desperately is trying to find a new place to live and is asking for financial help from anyone willing to assist them.
Brandie Nixon, her three sons and her fiance were forced from their residence at 300 Louise Drive in the Piney Park development southeast of St. Clair early last Saturday morning when a space heater malfunctioned in the children’s bedroom and caused the fire.
One of her sons, 3-year-old Kurtus, screamed as his bed caught fire and alerted Nixon and her fiance, Tyler Luker. Luker rescued the boy from the burning bedroom while Nixon and her 5-month-old son, Dominic, who was in the couple’s bedroom at the time, also escaped.
The young mother’s oldest son, Jacob, 6, was not at home.
“We were very lucky,” Nixon told The Missourian on Thursday. “It could have been a lot worse. But, we still lost a lot and need a place to live.”
Kurtus suffered a minor burn on his foot. Otherwise, everyone escaped unharmed.
St. Clair Fire Protection District firefighters were dispatched to the scene at 7:23 a.m. on Saturday, Dec. 21. When the first crews arrived a few minutes later, they saw flames coming from the back of the home, which is where the children’s bedroom is located.
It took firefighters about 15 to 20 minutes to extinguish the blaze, which spread to the attic and roof.
There were no working smoke detectors inside.
Most of the fire damage was contained to the back bedroom, but heavy smoke and water damage occurred throughout the structure and has made it uninhabitable.
Nixon said she was able to save most of the family’s Christmas presents and a few other belongings.
“But, almost everything in the kids’ bedroom was lost,” she said.
She said she and Luker have no homeowners insurance. The owner of the residence is Val Heigl.
The Red Cross provided funds for Luker, Nixon and her three sons to stay at a motel for three nights. However, they had to check out of the St. Clair Super 8 motel on Christmas Eve.
Nixon said since then, they have stayed with a neighborhood friend.
“We’re desperately trying to find a place to live,” she said. “We appreciate our neighbor’s help, but her place is small and she really doesn’t have any room for us.”
Nixon said the neighbor has three children of her own, and the residence is a small, two-bedroom house.
“We’re sleeping together on the living room floor,” she said.
Nixon said she is reaching out to her community for assistance. She has set up a contact through the “GoFundMe.com” website, which is a crowd funding platform that allows people to raise money for good causes.
“Please, any donations from a penny to whatever you can give, any amount will be greatly appreciated,” Nixon’s GoFundMe post reads. “I am doing all that I can to get us on our feet again. ... I am desperate and ... am trying to raise money so me and my family can get back on our feet and have a home again.”
Nixon said she does not need children’s clothing as friends and others have supplied that need. However, she and Luker need clothes.
Nixon said she is a size 7 or medium while Luker wears 30-inch, 30-inseam pants and large shirts.
“The big thing is helping us with donations so we can put it toward finding a new place to live,” she said, adding that certain monthly rent payments are affordable but that she and Luker have no money for a security deposit.
Individuals wishing to help can visit www.GoFundMe.com and type Brandie Nixon’s name in the search window.
Nixon also said people wishing to help can call her at 314-695-1186.
“We’re desperate,” Nixon said. “We need some help.”