Barre couple who lost home in Christmas explosion grateful for community support

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 28 December 2016 at 9:01 pm
Provided photo: Don and Fonda Carr narrowly escaped with their lives at about 4 a.m. on Christmas when their house on fire turned into an inferno.

Provided photo: Don and Fonda Carr narrowly escaped with their lives at about 4 a.m. on Christmas when their house on fire turned into an inferno.

BARRE – Don Carr heard the ice slide off the roof of his Barre home at about 4 a.m. on Christmas. Then Carr said he heard a loud hissing.

Carr happened to be up at that hour going to the bathroom. He thinks the ice severed the propane line. Soon his house was filling with gas. Carr yelled to his wife Fonda to get up.

Carr suspects the well pump turned on in his basement, and that spark ignited an explosion with the house turning into an inferno.

“It was the loudest boom I’ve ever heard in my life,” Mrs. Carr said today. “The house was filling with flames. There was a series of explosions and the wall was buckling.”

The house on Wilkins Road in Barre was rocked by the first explosion, and more followed as the Carrs frantically tried to get out. The front door was jammed and wouldn’t open from the house shifting. The Carrs opened a kitchen window leading to the porch – and got out, barely. As they were scrambling to get away, the house became fully engulfed in flames.

“Your adrenaline is pumping,” Mrs. Carr said. “We just wanted to get out. We didn’t get anything out of the house, because we just knew we had to get out.”

The Carrs made it out wearing their pajamas. Everything else was destroyed including the Christmas presents they had for their family.

A neighbor heard the explosion and called 911. Fonda’s car melted from the fire and her husband’s truck keys were gone in the fire. They used a 4-wheeler to go to their son’s for help.

He lives close by on Wilkins Road, a road named for Mrs. Carr’s grandfather, John Wilkins who was a farmer, just like Mrs. Carr’s father, Arthur Wilkins.

The Carrs escaped the house without any burns. Mrs. Carr was hit in the back of the head by her “Jesus clock” in the living room. She needed one stitch after being taken to Strong Memorial Hospital.

“It was the scariest thing, but we have so much to be thankful for,” said Mrs. Carr, a long-time substitute teacher for Albion and Medina school districts. “I know God looked out for us and kept us safe.”


Provided photo: The Carr home in Barre is a total loss after a fire on Christmas.

The Carrs today are staying with their daughter, Jennifer Carr, on Ridge Road in Gaines. They also met with the insurance adjuster today.

They are counting their blessings, grateful to be alive and overwhelmed by an outpouring of support from the community. A GoFundMe page set up to help them has 243 donations totaling $21,750 by 8:45 p.m. today. Click here for more information.

Many of the donations are from Albion and Medina teachers, and many of Carr’s former students. But many of the donors are from people the Carrs don’t know.

“I’m so glad you both are ok, Fonda you were always very nice to me in High School, keeping you both in my thoughts and prayers,” a former student wrote on the GoFundMe page.

The Carrs have been married 43 years. They want to rebuild on Wilkins Road. Fonda grew up on the road and her husband was raised close by in West Barre. Mr. Carr is retired as a mechanic and operator from Iroquois Rock Products, a quarry in Brockport.

They don’t expect they will be able to move into a rebuilt home until June or next summer, at the soonest.

Their daughter Jennifer Carr said the community donations have been overwhelming for her mother and father.

“My parents have always been good people,” she said today at her home. “There isn’t a bad bone in their body.”

Mrs. Carr’s sister Darlene Rich is the Shelby town clerk. Rich said the community response to Fonda and Don Carr is a testament to their goodness, and also how a small town will often rally to a family in crisis.

Rich said she is so grateful Fonda and Don were able to get out of the house before it was totally engulfed in flames.

“It was a true Christmas miracle,” Rich said.

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