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Donations Sought for Family Who Survived, But Lost Everything in the Montgomery Village Fire

"His house was burning and his best friend's child just died in the fire," said Kelsie Holtje, a friend and fellow parishioner of the displaced family.

A woman is trying to help a family whose posessions were completely destroyed in a fire in Montgomery Village, MD, on Wednesday, Jan. 8, 2014. If you're interested in helping, please call Kelsie Holtje at 301-428-0562. Patch stock graphic.
A woman is trying to help a family whose posessions were completely destroyed in a fire in Montgomery Village, MD, on Wednesday, Jan. 8, 2014. If you're interested in helping, please call Kelsie Holtje at 301-428-0562. Patch stock graphic.

A Montgomery County woman is trying to collect donated items for a family who survived, but lost everything in a fatal fire in Montgomery Village Wednesday.

Kelsie Holtje, of Clarksburg, said she learned about the fire from Desmond Aryertey, who lived in a third-floor apartment at Cider Mill Apartments with his two children and Aryertey’s sister. Holtje and Aryertey attend the same church.

“He said his house was burning and his best friend's child just died in the fire,” Holtje told Patch.

In a show of support, she has created a GoFundMe page and is asking people to donate gift cards or clothes, specifically:

  • men’s extra-large shirts
  • men’s 36-by-32 pants
  • women’s medium-size shirts and size 5 pants
  • girls’ clothes—size 6 shirts and  size 7 pants
  • boys’ clothes—size 8 shirts size 10 pants

On Wednesday night, a 4-year-old was killed in a fire that caused more than a million in damage and left 40 people without homes.

It took more than 80 firefighters to put the blaze. Investigators have not said what caused the blaze. Twelve residences were affected, according to Montgomery County Fire & Rescue Service.

The torched third-floor balcony shown in most news accounts is where the Aryertey family lived.

According to Holtje, they moved there after Aryertey’s wife was killed in a hit-and-run a few years ago because the memories of his wife were too strong at the former apartment.

Holtje said Aryertey was friends with the father of toddler who died.

Montgomery County Fire and Rescue Service said the victim's family was alerted to the fire by a smoke alarm. The father of that family, still in his bedclothes, ran out of the house with one child, but the smoke was too bad for him to get back in to save the toddler, according to Holtje’s account of what happened.

“He was just a little boy,” Holtje said.

The apartment management and the American Red Cross were helping the 40 residents who were displaced.

“Even if they give them an apartment, everything is gone, from the bed to the couches—all that stuff,” Holtje said.

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How to give

If you’re interested in donating, please call Kelsie Holtje at 301-428-0562 or visit her GoFundMe page, here.

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