Community rallies to support victims after fire in downtown Ripon

RIPON (WITI) -- A fire that consumed several downtown Ripon businesses last week has the community rallying together. 26 people lost their apartments in the fire, but through clothing, food and financial support they are already on their way to recovery.

Amy Pollesch runs the Traded Treasures Thrift Store and Community Food Pantry in Ripon. She says a room full of clothes has been donated since last Wednesday's fire.

"Ripon is very generous when there is not a crisis and I knew that when there was a situation like this, that they would be overly generous and very kind and they did," Pollesch said.

One of the beneficiaries is Christopher Luvian. He, along with his wife and two children, lost everything in the fire. But thanks to the generosity of community members, Luvian says they are getting back on their feet.

"This thrift store and the community of Ripon have really been there for us, I mean, hygiene, clothes, anything that we needed," Luvian said.

Luvian says with the assistance of the fire department, his family was able to go into what's left of their apartment. He says they were able to salvage some pictures, but that's all.

Meanwhile, investigators have so far been unable to determine what caused the fire. Access to the buildings and parts of Watson Street have been closed off.

Pollesch says Horicon Bank donated the empty building next to the thrift shop just days before the fire, and the question of what to do with the empty building was quickly answered.

"If Horicon Bank had not donated that space six days before the fire, we would not have had a space for these families to call rescue relief," Pollesch said.

While the immediate needs of the seven families have been met, Pollesch says they will need more help down the road. And with Christmas around the corner, Ripon, she says, is showing the true meaning of the season.

"Truly, absolutely a Christmas miracle in a crisis situation and I can't imagine it working out any more beautifully," Pollesch said.

The owners of the businesses affected by the fire say they may be allowed back in to survey the damage on Monday or Tuesday.