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Fire renews faith

by F.T. Norton
Cathleen Allison/Nevada Appeal Fire victims Lori Robert and her daughter, Morgan, 3, sort through a pile of donated items outside the Carson City Sheriff's Office on Monday morning. The family lost everything in a mobile home fire on Thursday morning.
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An accidental fire that destroyed Lori Robert’s home has renewed her faith in people.

“It’s just amazing,” the tearful mother said Monday as she stood in the lobby of the Carson City Sheriff’s Department.

Detectives and staff carried out armloads of clothing and household items people in the community donated to Robert, her two children and boyfriend, Roger Cassel, following the Thursday blaze that leveled her rental home on Brown Street.

She admits in the short time she’s lived here since moving from Washington she got the impression people here were mean.

“This has totally changed my outlook on everything. I want to thank everyone,” she said.

As Robert struggles to accept her losses – not only did every piece of furniture become ashes, no photographs of her daughter Morgan, 3, survived and the family’s cash savings was reduced to dust – she also tries to console her 6-year-old son, James, who admitted to playing with matches.

“My son did wrong, but he also saved our lives,” she said.

It was James who ran to tell his mother his bedroom was on fire about 9 a.m.

Tiny Morgan reminds her brother every day of what she’s lost.

“You burnt up my Elmo and now he can’t breathe,” Robert overheard Morgan tell James.

“What’s happened is such a big thing for a little guy to hold,” she said.

As she stands in the lobby, clutching a plastic bag of donated cash Ð some of it in coin shaken from the bottom of an 8-year-old girl’s piggy bank – Robert spots rollerblades in the hands of someone helping load her truck.

“Oh, rollerblades,” she said, barely able to get the words out and trying to smile through the tears. “My son lost his rollerblades in the fire.”

Cassel is the sole breadwinner in the family, so how much time they’ll need before they get into a new place remains to be seen, she said.

In the meantime the family is staying in a Red Cross-funded hotel room until tomorrow, and wearing clothing they were able to buy through Red Cross donations. She said Red Cross workers told her she could spend $600, but she didn’t feel right.

“I bought some clothes for the kids, and I got an outfit for me and Roger. We spent $300, but I couldn’t spend any more. What if someone else needs it?” she said.

Contact F.T. Norton at ftnorton@nevadaappeal.com or 881-1213.

YOU CAN HELP

Donations of clothing, money or household goods may be made to the Carson City Sheriff’s Department at 901 East Musser Street. If donating furniture, call 887-2020 and leave your name, number and what item you wish to donate. The children’s clothing sizes are 6-7 in boys, 5-6 in girls; boys shoes 12 1/2, girls shoes 11 1/2