Family mourns loss of pet, braces for New Year after fire destroys home
Montana Standard - 12/24/2017
Dec. 23--Terry Linton says her dog Keonie, who died in the fire that destroyed her home on Argyle Street Monday, was more than just the family pet.
In addition to being the family's best friend, Keonie was also a service dog for Linton's 8-year-old developmentally disabled daughter and her 9-year-old daughter, who has autism.
"(Keonie) was our world; she was the center of our universe," said Linton, a single mother of five children ages 4 through 10.
Linton said the dog was donated to the family by a Montana breeder and was trained by a nonprofit that specializes in training service dogs.
When flames and smoke began emanating from Linton's home on the 2700 block of Argyle Street Monday around 12:30 p.m., Linton's children were all in school and she was dropping off a donation to Butte'sYMCA for Safe Space, a domestic-violence prevention center in Butte.
It was her neighbors, Linton said, who called her to say that her home was on fire.
After receiving the call, Linton immediately drove home, honking and flashing her lights at other motorists.
When she arrived at the scene, visible flames and smoke were pouring from the windows and doors of her home and firefighters were cutting into her house trying to reach the flames.
Fire Marshall Brian Doherty said Monday the fire started in the basement and burned through the first floor, causing extensive damage.
In a similar house fire earlier this month, firefighters were able to save a dog using a pet oxygen mask. The mask was one among seven that have been donated to the fire department. But Keonie, a bluetick coonhound, didn't fare as well. She was treated with one of the pet oxygen masks and fire officials gave her CPR, but she didn't make it.
Since the fire, Linton and her five children have been staying at hotels around Butte, first at the Clarion Inn Copper King Hotel and Convention Center and now at the Fairfield Inn & Suites. The family has been assisted by the American Red Cross, and both hotels have either comped overnight stays or offered a discounted rate.
Linton said she's not sure yet what she'll do in the long term for housing, adding that her family lost nearly everything they own in the fire, down to the toilet paper and beds.
"We literally lost everything in the house," Linton said.
She added that she's doing her best to keep the spirit of Christmas alive -- "I'm trying to keep the magic going," she said -- because she doesn't want her children to have to relive the memory of Monday's fire in the years to come.
But keeping the magic going, she said, is hard when a member of the family is gone. People have donated toys to her children, but she says her children just want their dog back.
Linton said she and her family have been through hard times before. In 2016 she was diagnosed with cancer. But the mother of five says the loss her family has experienced has been dampened by the kindness of strangers.
Many people in the Butte community have stepped up to provide the family donations, including the Butte School District, two Butte restaurants, fire and law-enforcement personnel, the American Red Cross, the Uptown tavern Party Palace, and -- among others -- Butte firefighter Chris High, who Linton said has helped spread the word about the family's need and made a spaghetti dinner for the family on the first night after the fire.
"The love and support of the community has been absolutely amazing," Linton said, adding that "Butte has become our family."
"It's not hopeless," she said.
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