Reporting Mike Puccinelli
HOMER GLEN (CBS) – A Homer Glen family who lost their home in a fire earlier this week gained an entire community’s good will, as neighbors have rallied behind them.
Earlier this month, Army Sgt. Michael Ruckman shipped out to Afghanistan for a yearlong deployment. Days later, a fire gutted his home, leaving seven family members homeless.
As CBS 2’s Mike Puccinelli reports, the community has stepped up to help the family start over.
It was Ruckman’s 30th birthday when he learned that his wife, children, parents and brothers had been burned out of their home.
Despite that tragedy on the home front, Ruckman was not allowed to leave his position on the front lines of the war on terrorism. That’s why others have stepped up.
Tina Kadow’s home of 16 years was destroyed in a fire on Monday. She watched it burn after receiving a panicked phone call from her daughter-in-law.
“She was screaming ‘It’s your house, get home,’ and that she was across the street,” Kadow said.
Kadow’s daughter-in-law, Mandy Ruckman, had just moved into the home with her three young daughters just a day before the fire broke out, because her husband and just been sent to Afghanistan to begin a yearlong deployment.
Mandy made it out safely with the kids, but the family lost everything in the fire. Then she had to break the news to her husband while he was overseas.
“He feels pretty helpless because he can’t do anything, you know? His mother’s here and his family’s here and we’re displaced and he’s stuck over in Afghanistan,” Mandy said.
Lisa Lovelace doesn’t know the Ruckmans, but when she heard about what happened she decided to help the sergeant’s family.
“He’s out protecting my children every night, so I thought we needed to protect his,” Lovelace said.
An account has been set up at Harris Bank to provide assistance to the Ruckman family. Clothing, toy and furniture donations are being taken at Homer Glen’s firehouses.
“Especially around Christmas time, we’ve got to replace all the gifts,” Homer Township Fire Protection District Chief Michael Schofield said. “Basically, his family needs to start over again.”
All seven members of Sgt. Ruckman’s family are staying at the home of a friend.
“At first we were just like ‘What are we gonna do? How are we gonna get through this?’ But, immediately people started helping us out,” Mandy said.
“It’s just, the outpouring is amazing,” Kadow said.
As of Wednesday, the family was still working on trying to find out where they will live next.
The cause of the fire is still under investigation.