Colorado nurse and teacher lose home to house fire days before Christmas
COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. (KKTV) - In the middle of a pandemic, days before Christmas, two frontline workers lost their home to a fire.
Emily Lawerence, an ICU nurse at UCHealth Memorial Central, and her fiance, Christopher Grothey, a 7th-grade language arts teacher at Challenger Middle School in Academy District 20 were out with their dogs when they got a phone call.
“I had a missed call from the fire department and it was a very vague message and so I called them back right away and they told us there was a fire at our house,” says Lawrence.
The two returned to the home they rent to find it nearly destroyed with only a few things salvageable.
“The first thing that went through my mind actually was my late grandfather gave me a gold necklace, and that was the only thing I thought of. The firefighters were actually able to save that necklace. It was sitting on my nightstand completely untouched,” says Lawrence.
The inside of their home was charred and ashes and water damaged covered their belongings. Firefighters say an electrical fire in their guest room sparked the flames. The fire spread to almost every inch of the home. Firefighters were able to save the irreplaceable necklace along with a fire-proof safe that saved important documents.
“It’s sad that it was our new place for a year and now it’s gone. So, it was starting to feel like home and we loved the location,” says Grothey.
The two say it’s almost a perfect storm this should happen when it did.
“We’re going through a pandemic it’s almost the holidays, you feel like you could almost get a break from it,” says Grothey.
But the two made the most out of the situation they were in.
“I kept telling Emily that we have too many things anyway. Beforehand I was really like we should cut down on the stuff we have, start giving stuff away. But now it’s just gone anyway,” says Grothey
The two had just recently moved to Colorado. Since the pandemic started Lawerence has been caring for COVID-19 patients in the ICU and Grothey has been teaching his class from home.
Without a home to isolate in during the pandemic and teach from while students continue e-learning, the couple faced a new challenge.
“Especially during a pandemic and me being an ICU nurse, I initially thought everyone’s going to be afraid of us and we’re going to be living in a hotel,” said Lawrence.
Luckily the whole community rallied behind them to help the couple while they figured out their next move.
“We are just thankful for everyone we met in Colorado and everyone who jumped in to help when we needed it most,” says Grothey.
The couple says they are beyond grateful for the fire department’s willingness to make a terrifying situation easier to digest. They’re also thankful firefighters were able to save what they could from the home.
While the two lost nearly everything they had, they say now they’re looking at life a little differently.
“One thing I look at now is I’m focused on cherishing memories and not cherishing items,” says Lawrence.
“No matter how things change, it’s always about how you see it. We may have lost our house but like we said we’re trying to find those silver linings,” says Grothey.
The two frontline workers plan to look for a new place to live with their two dogs. Until then, they’ll stay with friends as they both head back to work in a time their community needs them the most.
They tell 11 News they do have insurance.
A friend of Emily and Christopher’s set up a GoFundMe page to help the couple. If you would like to donate you can do so here.
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