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Maple Grove Family Finds Community Support After House Fire

Sep 13, 2016 04:35PM ● Published by Wendy Erlien

Gennadiy and Viktoriya Yakovlev (left) with neighbors Allyson and Chris Lindstrom. (photo by Wendy Erlien)

It was nearly three weeks ago on Aug. 24 when Yakovlev family lost their home during a fire.

After a tragedy that left their family without a home, vehicles, and personal belongings, neighbors and community members continue to pull together to let the family know they are not alone.  

The Fire

For approximately 12 years, Gennadiy and Viktoriya Yakovlev have called the city of Maple Grove their home. It was about six years ago when the couple and their two daughters moved into their new home on the 7000 block of Garland Avenue in Maple Grove.

The evening of Aug. 24 started rather routinely. Gennadiy recalls coming home from work, doing yard work, and eating dinner that evening. Afterward, he, Viktoriya and one of his daughters decided to head to the store for school supplies and groceries. Their other daughter, Maria, opted to stay home while the family ran errands.

It was while they were at the store, Gennadiy received a call – their house was on fire.  

“I couldn’t believe it,” Gennadiy said. “I asked, ‘where is Maria’?”  He was told his daughter was safe.

“We dropped everything and ran out of the store,” he said. Upon arriving home, Gennadiy recalled seeing the fire, smoke, “tons of people” and the fire department working on the blaze. 

“It was a terrifying moment,” he said. “That night was real terrible. Everybody was in shock. We keep rewinding it to that moment. We were so blessed nothing happened to our daughter. The rest can be fixed.” 

Her parents, along with neighbors Allyson and Chris Lindstrom, commended Maria on her bravery.

“She said she heard something ‘pop’ in the garage and she thought it might be someone trying to break in, so she ran away and went to a neighbor,” Gennadiy said.

Neighbor Chris Lindstrom recalled the events of the evening.

“I was sitting in the garage. The first thing I noticed was the smell,” he said. “Then I heard the smoke detectors going off.”

He followed the sound which brought him to the Yakovlev home where he saw another neighbor with their daughter. Concerned that others might still be in the house, Chris and another neighbor knocked on the door and ended up going into the house through the sliding glass doors. 

“I thought maybe something was burning in the oven. You could see a light haze in the house,” Chris said. They went through each room, ending up at the garage. The door wasn’t warm, so they opened it and a cloud of black smoke came out. Closing the door, they went back outside, looked through a garage window and could see a small fire in the garage.

“I ran off back to my house and grabbed two fire extinguishers,” Chris said. “By the time I got back, the whole front of the garage was on fire. It went so fast.”

In the meantime, their neighbor had called 911 and Chris had called Gennadiy. Emergency responders from the Maple Grove Police and Fire Department arrived at the home about 8:30 p.m.

Initially, Maple Grove Fire Stations four and five were dispatched.  "They immediately asked for two more stations. Eventually all fire were either working at the scene or standing by to cover the rest of the city," Maple Grove Fire Chief Scott Anderson said. "There were at least 50 firefighters there."

In the aftermath of the fire, several neighbors invited the family to stay with them. For the next two weeks, Gennadiy, Viktoriya and their daughters stayed with Allyson and Chris Lindstrom.

After the Fire

The cause of the fire “is officially being called undetermined,” according Maple Grove Fire Department Deputy Chief Marilyn Arnlund, who indicated there were several items charging or plugged in where the fire originated and “…we and the insurance investigator were not able to say that any one of the items absolutely caused the fire.”

Nearly three weeks later, the family is awaiting a final determination from their insurance company on whether portions of the home will be saved or if it will be a complete rebuild.  

“We can’t do much,” Gennadiy said.

After living with the Lindstrom family for several weeks, the Yakovlev family has temporarily moved into a nearby rental home while they wait. In the meantime, life after fire has been an adjustment.

“When we moved [to the rental], it has been a bit of empty space,” Gennadiy said. “There were no books, toys – they [daughters] have been a little stressed. But, it’s not as bad as it could be.” 

“So many neighbors, friends have helped us out,” Gennadiy said, stating they have the basics. “We’re two working people – so, we’re just trying to get back on track from where we were two weeks ago. It’s not easy, but we’re trying.”

Friends and community members have rallied to help the family.

“Even people we didn’t know were offering us a place to stay,” Viktoriya said. “We are surrounded by such great, wonderful people - we are so thankful.”

“People have been so great in our neighborhood, in our community. It’s been unbelievable,” Gennadiy said.  

How to Help

“One of the first things you think about when something as overwhelming and devastating like this happens to your friends is what you can do,” Allyson said. As the fire was happening that evening, Allyson and other neighbors talked about how they could provide help. To help raise funds for the family, Allyson setup a GoFundMe page.  Since then, support has come in from neighborhood, community, and even out of state.

“It just seemed like a way it could fit any of their needs and didn’t require them to think about what they needed at the moment,” she said. “We know there are a lot of people that want to help and don’t know how. This is a simple way to do it.”

Donations for the family are being accepted through Sept. 30, 2016 through the Go Fund Me page. More information and how to donate can be found by clicking here: https://www.gofundme.com/25mkmm58

“Thank you so much for your help in assisting this family through this horrible incident. I know they will be so very grateful” Allyson wrote on the Go Fund Me page

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