Birch Bay man seeks help after fire destroys home

Published on Thu, Sep 23, 2010 by By Tara Nelson

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A disabled man is looking to get back on his feet after an early morning fire destroyed his Birch Bay home.

John Laws, 33, of Birch Bay, said all of his belongings were destroyed in the fire and that he is residing with his mother in Birch Bay until he can find another affordable housing situation.

Laws said he owned the 12 x 48-foot singlewide mobile home at the RV park in which he lived but said because of his limited and fixed income, he was unable to afford homeowners insurance.

He added that he is hoping to  to repay money borrowed from friends to move the damaged trailer from the park. Laws said the RV Park charged him a $1,000 removal fee as well as his next month’s rent of $375.

Officials with the North Whatcom Fire and Rescue District said the fire started at approximately 6:20 a.m. on Friday, September 3.

Laws said he had left only 20 minutes prior to when the fire was reported and had been on his way to cash his disability paycheck.

The Mount Baker chapter of The Red Cross provided Laws with some daily items and a cash voucher for $210, which he used to purchase new clothes.
The Red Cross also offers victims financial assistance in obtaining new housing if they are in immediate need and they are able to move within 30 days.

Laws, however, said because he was forced to pay the RV park rent for the month of September and because he was able to temporarily reside with his mother, he would not be taking advantage of The Red Cross’s financial assistance.

“The Red Cross has gone above and beyond anything I expected so I want to give them credit,” he said. “They called the other day and offered to help with the deposit and first month’s rent but because I couldn’t afford part of the expenses with this paycheck, I couldn’t take advantage of their offer.”

The cause of the fire remains under investigation.

His mother, Donna Laws, has set up an account at Wells Fargo bank in Whatcom County under her son’s name. “It was awful to lose everything but he wasn’t in there so I’m thankful,” she said.

For more information, call 354-0701 or 366-4077.