Fund-raiser for young family after home was charred

— Submitted by Sarah Gordon

“Everything we have can be replaced,” said Lisa Kominos, right, whose East Berne home was damaged by a fire on Jan. 5 while she, her husband, left, and their daughter, Ella, center, were away. Sarah Gordon and friends are organizing a Jan. 23 fund-raiser at The Hofbrau restaurant on Warner’s Lake. “I just know how long it takes for those things to shake out, and how flustering it can be,” said Gordon. “I don’t want them to worry about money.”

EAST BERNE — An ember rising from the chimney of the Hausler family home on Jan. 5 lit a fire in the attic and exposed overwhelming kindness.

Jeffrey Hausler grew up in the house on Route 443, moving there when he was in the third grade. Sunday evening, Hausler was eating with his fiancée, Lisa Kominos, and their daughter, Ella, at his brother’s house in Altamont. Their neighbor, Richard Guilz, was eating dinner, too. When Guilz spotted the fire, he went into the house to check for the family, Kimonos said, and found a stranger who had stopped in to help.

“He went in and said, ‘I’m from the fire department, get out.’ And then he searched the house,” said Kominos of Guilz.

The woodpile was under a lean-to alongside the chimney of the house, and is suspected to be the start of the fire, Kominos said, noting she is still awaiting reports from police to confirm the cause of the fire. The flames climbed the side of the house and spread into the attic, where their daughter’s playroom and bedroom were destroyed.

“My rocking chair is up there,” said Kominos. “We’re going to try to salvage that, because I’d be heartbroken if I don’t have it.”

The fire took almost everything of 1-year-old Ella: her clothes, toys, crib, and books, said Kominos.

“She absolutely loves to read, that is her absolute favorite thing in the world,” said Kominos, adding that her daughter loves farm animals.

Items kept from when Ella was smaller were taken, too — “little things that I found special,” said Kominos, like her bassinet, clothes, and favorite toys.

When the couple arrived at their house on Sunday night, they were comforted by neighbors who came over and firefighters they knew. Water used to fight the fire damaged floors and ceilings throughout the house.

“Our Realtor was there, because he was in the fire department. He knew us and walked us through what was happening,” said Kominos. The Realtor went with the couple into their home for them to retrieve their things, and he explained the path of the fire and what the fire departments had done.

Another firefighter offered the family dinner and a place to sleep.

Ella’s clothes have been replaced through donations so far. Kominos said her family has been overwhelmed by support, sometimes from distant friends.

“I don't think it was as much of what people were saying,” said Kominos, “but just that sense of support, just that feeling of community, that feeling of love.”

****

On Jan. 23, at 7 p.m., a fund-raiser for the Hausler family will be held, with a $15 cover charge, at The Hofbrau restaurant on 141 Warners Lake Road, Berne, New York 12059.

Light refreshments will be served and a cash bar will be available. Pies, cakes, and diamond earrings will be sold in a silent auction. The band Black Mountain Symphony, including Annie and Charlie Burgess and Bear Campo, will perform.

Checks may be made payable to Lisa Kominos or Jeff Hausler. For anyone who cannot attend, checks may be made to Benefit for the Hausler family and mailed either in the care of Jennifer Hausler at Post Office Box 308 Altamont, NY 12009 or TrustCo Bank 1900 Altamont Ave., Rotterdam NY 12303.

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