Reporting Rachel Slavik
ELK RIVER, Minn. (WCCO) – An Elk River woman lost everything when her home went up in flames. She owes her life to a neighbor who woke her up before the roof caved in. That neighbor did more than just save her life, too, he also gave her a home.
The view of 18829 Zumbro Street never used to bring so much pain to Barb Jones. For seven years, it was home. Now, it’s a reminder of what she’s lost.
“I just want my home back,” said Jones.
The August fire started on the second level shortly after midnight, but Jones never heard the smoke alarms. She may have not made it out alive had her neighbor, Shane Schminkey, not jumped into action.
“The flames had to be 16 feet high. They were huge,” said Schminkey.
He ran into the burning home and screamed for Jones to get out.
“It wasn’t long after we got out of the house there’s… a loud explosion,” said Schminkey.
If the rescue was the foundation for a friendship, what Schminkey would do next would make them family.
“It’s weird the bond you get with someone after something like this,” said Schminkey.
He and his wife offered Jones his 10-by-26 foot trailer for as long as she needed. It was her one of her only options for housing because financial hardships in January forced her to drop her home insurance.
“They were so generous, and they said, “Don’t worry. You’ll have a place to go. We’ll take care of you…we’ll look after you,” said Jones.
Every time Jones returns home, she finds that Shane fulfills that promise. Three weeks after the fire and she still rummages through the damage trying to recover pieces of her past.
“He’s here 95 percent of the time I’m here, because he knows how hard it is for me,” said Jones.
Fire may have destroyed her home, but it also formed a lasting friendship.
If you’d like to help, a fund has been set up to care of Barb Jones:
Barb Jones Fund
M & I Bank
13798 Rogers Drive.