On Centre: Penns Valley | Millheim grandmother loses everything in blaze

February 11, 2013 

Deb Grubb never thought she’d have to start over in her 60s.

But that’s the position this Millheim grandmother finds herself in after a fire ripped through her West Alley home last week.

Grubb was left with just the clothes on her back. Decades of memories — baby pictures, her late husband’s belongings — all consumed by the flames. Firefighters confirmed the structure is a total loss and said the fire appears to be accidental in nature.

“It’s awful,” said her daughter, Kim Hess. “I think she’s still (in shock). All she keeps saying is she lost all my dad’s stuff, everything she owned.”

Hess, meanwhile, counts her blessings that she didn’t lose her mother in the house fire that claimed so many family heirlooms.

“You have your memories of that stuff, but most important is that you are alive,” Hess recalled telling her mother.

And Hess knows just how lucky her mother was. Grubb wasn’t home at the time of the fire late Tuesday, and no one was injured in the blaze.

Grubb was staying at her daughter’s home, also on West Alley, to help care for her grandchild, Hess’ son, who had been sick.

“She says Landon (Hess’ son) saved her life because she would have burned,” Hess said of her mother. “It started in her bedroom.”

Still, Hess worries about how her mother will be able to get back on her feet. Though Grubb had insurance on her home, much of that money will go toward paying off her mortgage.

And so Hess is rallying family and friends. She has started a fund at the Mifflinburg Bank and Trust in Millheim to help ensure her mother can rebuild and move on with her life.

But it may take some time. From replenishing her mother’s medicine to finding new clothes, addressing the things we all take for granted will come first. “She wore the clothes on her back for two days,” Hess said.

Support from the American Red Cross and the community, however, has started pouring in, and Hess said the family is grateful for the assistance.

Anyone who wishes to help can make a donation to the Deb Grubb Fire Fund at the Mifflinburg Bank and Trust Co., P.O. Box 438, Millheim, PA 16854.

Matt Carroll writes about news from the Penns and Brush Valley regions. He can be reached at 231-4631 or mcarroll@centredaily.com.

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