McMINNVILLE, Ore. (KOIN) — For 37 years, Pam Hermens lived on NE 2nd Court in McMinnville. For all those years she also ran a daycare out of the home she still lived in with her son, daughter-in-law and 2 grandchildren.
But everything she owned, everything, was gone in a few minutes when fire swept through her house Sunday afternoon.
Around 1:30 p.m. she heard popping sounds coming from the carport area. “Walked to my patio door which is in my bedroom and saw the fire,” Hermens told KOIN 6 News. “Just ran to my daughter-in-law’s room where she and the baby were napping, said, ‘The house is on fire! Get the hell out of here!'”
It appears the fire started under the awning and “just kind of curled around up the garage vent and up into the attic, and it was gone. We barely had time to get out of the house.”
An official cause of the blaze has not yet been determined, but she said she was told it was faulty wiring.
Pam Hermens said she not only raised her own kids at this house, she’s raised daycare families.
“I’ve had kids of kids, I mean, I’ve had them call me crying, going, ‘I grew up there,'” she said.
But it’s that community she nurtured since 1982 that has stepped up in their time of need.
“People are coming out of the woodwork that I don’t even know,” she told KOIN 6 News. “It’s overwhelming that there still is, there still are good people out there and that are willing to help. And too much beyond that and I’m just going to break down and cry.”
One of those people, Melinda Forney, lives and works nearby at the Jim Doran car dealership. She saw the fire Sunday — “lots of black smoke and just the smell was horrible” — and started a Facebook fundraising page to help with some of the basics while they wait for insurance money.
“It was heart wrenching because you think what if that was your house? And all the things you have in your house that you take for granted,” Forney said.
Many people came to help, she said, and so far they’ve raised more than $1000.
Through it all, Pam Hermens said she’s still thankful and plans to rebuild.
“I’m thankful that we’re all alive. Things you can replace. Memories you still have. You can lose pictures and stuff but you still have memories,” she said. “I’m thankful that (my daughter-in-law) Melanie and I got out of the house alive because that might not have happened.”