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Donations to help fire victims
Bank of the West site for donating
larned fire 003
Photo by Jim Misunas Great Bend Tribune A Jan. 14 fire caused an estimated $50,000 in damage to a property in the 500 block of West First Street in Larned. A fund has been set up to help the homeowners.

By Jim Misunas

LARNED — Friends and relatives have set up a relief fund at Bank of the West in Larned for a family which lost its house and possessions in a Jan. 14 house fire. The east side of the house sports a giant Kansas City Chiefs logo.
Merrill Sanders and his girlfriend, Heather Holmes, lost their possessions and their home in the 500 block of West First Street in Larned.  Larned Fire Chief Don Clapham said the loss of the home and valuables were estimated at more than $50,000. The cause of the fire was deemed to be undetermined, according to Clapham. Fire crews worked at the fire scene for more than four hours.
“It’s a setback that sometimes is part of life,” said Sanders. “You just have to go back to work and make it one day at a time. We appreciate everything people are doing to help us out.”
The donations at Bank of the West will help replace items and possessions lost in the fire. Donations can be sent to Bank of the West, 324 W. 14th, Larned, KS, 67550; and marked in Merrill Sanders’ name. His property and possessions were not insured.
Sanders works as a mechanic at Larned Automotive and works part-time as Casey’s Carry Out Pizza making donuts. They’ve moved to a temporary residence, but Sanders wants to rebuild.
“We’re going to tear down the old house and build a new one,” he said. “You want to go in positive direction. I know I’ve got to be strong.”
The fire was reported by a neighbor across the street who noticed the smoke and called 911. Firefighters and members of Larned Fire and Rescue assisted with Sanders and Holmes, who was transported to Pawnee Valley Community Hospital for smoke inhalation and eventually released, according to Clapham. Firefighters also assisted in the removal of several pets.