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Denver family rebuilding with community's help in wake of destructive house fire

Community shows support for Colorado family who lost home in devastating fire
Community shows support for Colorado family who lost home in devastating fire 03:06

Dan and Justina Oldehoff are rebuilding not just a home, but a business. They worked out of their house for Carter's Cause, a nonprofit that provides support to parents of NICU babies and helps those who have suffered the loss of their newborn children.

All of their supplies were burned in the fire along with most of their belongings but support from their Grant Ranch community has been overwhelmingly positive.

"We didn't get to see the house until Saturday morning," said Dan. "As soon as we arrived we were basically welcomed by all of our neighbors that were already here."

Almost immediately, neighbors were sweeping up glass, helping sift through burned wreckage and providing the Oldehoffs with anything and everything they needed.

"We had some folks working on the donation element, some folks working on the essentials, some folks working on toys for Aron," said Jon Hecht, a friend of the family. "We started pulling together all sorts of things from toys to clothes to basic necessities and then obviously there's the stuff that will never be replaced.

While almost the entirety of the home was lost, one particularly important piece was saved. The ashes and memory box for Carter, the Oldehoff's first son who passed away in 2019 and the namesake of their organization. Somehow, the box was saved by Denver firefighters.


"It was a wooden box filled with paper and cloth and should've been the first thing to burst into flames it seems," said Dan. "But some drywall fell from the ceiling and cocooned it a little."

Denver fire officials told CBS News Colorado that had that drywall not created the protective barrier it likely would've been lost in the fire along with everything else in the room. 

"It doesn't matter what you believe in," said Justina. "There's something to say about that. Everything in the house is lost."

As they pick up the pieces, support is pouring in from all corners of the country. The Oldehoffs moved to Colorado from Florida and the fundraiser set up by Hecht has gathered over $25,000 to help with the rebuilding. At their house, neighbors are dropping by almost constantly, bringing lunch, clothes and simple things like socks and toys for their 5-year-old son Aron.


"We were just like what can we do to help immediately while they work things out with the insurance company and get on their feet," said Hecht. "They're good people and what comes around goes around." 

Dan, Justina, Aron and their dog, Moose, have even been given a chance to stay in the neighborhood.

"Our neighbors got a call about someone willing to move out of their home and go stay with her mom for us to stay there," Justina said. "To have a roof over our head and stability for our kid."

They plan to rebuild and make new memories to augment the old ones made on South Harlan Street. It'll be a chance to grow anew, but also to stay in a community that has wrapped its arms around a family in need; a family that has opened their arms for others and is now receiving that same love in turn.

"The horror of arriving and laying eyes on it and taking a walk through it and realizing nothing is left turned into an incredible show of love from the neighbors," Dan said.

The cause of the fire is still under investigation by the Denver Fire Department. In the meantime, their FreeFunder campaign remains open. 

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