Fred and Alison Bunney were ready to move many of their belongings to their new home at 806 South St.
Instead, they find themselves seeking refuge in a camper for the time being.
A Monday afternoon fire gutted the home’s interior as it was being prepared for their arrival.
Barbara Elliott, who was in the structure shortly before the fire started, explains:
Elliott and her husband, Jerold, were preparing the house for the arrival of Barbara’s son and his wife, the Bunney couple, and their two children. (A third child is on the way.)
Barbara Elliott had been in the home cleaning, and had left to eat dinner, as her husband called her from their house about two blocks away.
The two were chatting on the phone when they heard sirens.
“He thought I had been pulled over,” she told the Register.
Instead, the sirens were from firefighters headed to the house on South Street. A passing city employee noted smoke coming from the structure, prompting the call to the Fire Department.
The firefighters extinguished the fire — the interior was fully engulfed in flames when they arrived — but not before the interior was destroyed.
Meanwhile, the Bunneys were en route to Iola from Pittsburg with a load of clothing, furniture and other household objects.
“They were about 30 miles away from Iola when the fire happened,” Barbara Elliott said.
What’s worse, her son already had quit his job in Pittsburg, making a return to Pittsburg problematic.
“We’re trying to see what we can find for them,” she said. “We were going to let them stay in the house for free while they looked for jobs.”
The Bunneys are staying in a camper with the Elliotts until permanent housing can be found.
“They can stay in our house during the day, but we just don’t have room for them at night,” Barbara Elliott said. “We only have a one-bedroom house.”
A photo caption in Tuesday’s Register incorrectly reported the home was owned by Jerold Eliott. Rather, it was owned by Joe Elliott’s son, Brian Elliott, who lives in California.
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