Hastings family plans to rebuild on site of Monday's blazeThirteen years ago, Nolan and Jean Appert moved into the home on the corner of 17th Street West and Pleasant Drive. Soon after, they began filling that house up, and fixing that house up.
By: Chad Richardson, The Hastings Star-Gazette
Thirteen years ago, Nolan and Jean Appert moved into the home on the corner of 17th Street West and Pleasant Drive. Soon after, they began filling that house up, and fixing that house up.
Two children were added, as were a couple dogs and a rabbit. The Apperts began extensive renovations inside, remodeling it room by room, floor by floor.
On Monday, that fixer-upper was destroyed by fire.
Nolan Appert was working in Lake City when his wife called.
“I couldn’t really understand her, but I understood ‘Our house is on fire,’” he said.
He took off running to his work truck, and then made the hour-long journey to Hastings, fidgeting and panicking the whole way.
By the time he arrived on the scene, the fire was out. His truck was destroyed, the family’s camper was destroyed and portions of his garage had simply vanished, having literally gone up in smoke and flames.
Appert couldn’t believe his eyes when he saw the damage.
When asked about his first thoughts upon arriving on the scene, he simply said: “My life.”
He continued: “I’ve remodeled the whole house. That’s 13 years of hard work. Everything you dream of having was taken away. My life was taken away.”
Family members and neighbors then began to fill Nolan and Jean Appert in on everything that had transpired as the fire raged at their home.
Nolan’s brother Niles had happened to be driving by, and was at the scene early on. He and his fiancée, Megan Kieffer, and a few neighbors helped care for two dogs that were whisked away from the blaze by firefighters. Later, firefighters emerged with a rabbit, Thumper, who sadly died a day later.
“I told my son, when we get a new home, he can get whatever pets he wants,” Nolan Appert said. “He can have seven Thumpers in our house. Gerbils. Hamsters. Whatever.”
The Apperts are staying at a hotel in Hastings this week, and have found a home to rent just four blocks away from their current one.
By Monday afternoon, a makeshift clothes line was set up between trees in the Appert’s front yard. Pinned to the line were photographs that were drying.
A small army of neighbors, friends, relatives and strangers were pitching in to help out. Pizzas arrived, gift baskets showed up and the Apperts were humbled.
“I don’t know what to say,” Jean Appert said. “The outpouring of support for our family – it’s tremendous. We can’t thank everyone enough. We just want to thank everybody. The genuine kindness – it’s amazing.”
Two years, two fires
This wasn’t the first Appert in Hastings to go through a fire-related tragedy. In July of 2010, Nolan’s brother Nate Appert had his house catch fire after an electrical short triggered a blaze.
The family had a working smoking detector and left the structure right away. A considerable amount of damage was done to the home.