September 20, 2014

Elyria
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Neighbors set up fund for explosion victims

Friends, family and neighbors of the Mickolick family help go through what is left of their Columbia Avenue home Saturday. KRISTIN BAUER | CHRONICLE

Friends, family and neighbors of the Mickolick family help go through what is left of their Columbia Avenue home Saturday. CHRONICLE  FILE PHOTO

ELYRIA — In the aftermath of the Friday night explosion that rocked residents of Columbia Avenue, neighbors have come together to help some of their own.

Ellen Weiss, who lives at 128 Columbia Ave., was home watching “It’s a Wonderful Life” when the vacant residence four houses down, at 116 Columbia Ave., exploded in a fiery blaze. The cause of the explosion is under investigation, but it caused heavy damage to two neighboring homes, one of which had to be torn down. Other homes in the area also were damaged from the blast.

Weiss joined with other neighbors on that street to set up a fund for the Page and Mickolick families, whose homes were the most severely damaged. The families are staying at local hotels after one home was torn down and the other slated for demolition.

Kevin Brubaker, supervisor of the city Building Department, said the cost of the demolitions will be paid for by the residents’ insurance. The Page family had an opportunity to gather a few belongings from their home Monday, but the Mickolick family’s home had been deemed not structurally sound enough to enter after the explosion.

Weiss said community members felt the need to help, so they set up the Columbia Avenue Benevolent Fund. Donations can be made at any First Merit Bank in Lorain County.

“The community — the street — has been wonderful. The neighbors have really come together,” Weiss said. “Everyone’s been really supportive.”

The giving spirit reaches across state lines, with New Hampshire resident Tracey Deyette raising more than $7,000 for the Mickolick family.

Deyette, a dog breeder, met Chris Mickolick at a dog show in Michigan. The two remained friends after Deyette adopted one of Mickolick’s English Cocker Spaniels.

Deyette said she found out what happened when reaching out to Mickolick via Facebook. She said Saturday was Mickolick’s birthday.

“The fact that it was Christmas and it was a Christmas birthday — it’s a little kick to the stomach,” she said.

After setting up a donation fund at www.gofundme.com, the donations began pouring in from more than 100 people, many of them dog lovers.

Sharon Hamrick, another friend of Chris Mickolick, said she is taking care of the family’s three English Cocker Spaniels while family members are in a hotel. She said the explosion was especially heartbreaking to Chris, because she didn’t have the opportunity to gather any of her belongings.

“Chrissy’s a survivor, and she’s strong, but she’s still in shock,” she said.

Contact Chelsea Miller at 329-7123 or cmiller@chroniclet.com. Follow her on Twitter @ChelseaMillerCT.

If you want to help

  • Go Fund Me collection: http://www.gofundme.com/5v64yg  – Chris Mickolick Fund
  • Columbia Avenue Benevolent Fund — Donations can be made at any First Merit Bank in Lorain County.