On Jan 30 at around 2 a.m. Tami Hazen Holdsworth of Warren was startled out of deep sleep by a loud banging sound and shouting at the front door of her home. Within an hour, she lost her home and nearly everything she owned in a fire that started in the chimney pipe running through her attic and quickly spread, causing extensive damage.
“When I finally woke up, I heard someone beating hard on the front door,” said Holdsworth. “I jumped up out of bed and went toward the door. I could hear a man shouting that my house was on fire. My dogs were barking and going nuts. I didn’t smell any smoke yet because it was still up in my attic. I was wearing sweats and t-shirt, so I threw on some more clothes and got my pets and myself out of there.”
Holdsworth’s home is located about a quarter of mile off U.S. Highway 310 on Quarry Road. Her nearest neighbor is the Warren Transport Company. Fortunately, Scott Coffey, a trucker for the company, spotted what looked like a hot spot on her roof on that cold and windy night and took the time to alert her to the danger – an act that most likely saved her life and the lives of her three dogs and four cats.
Holdsworth said the home has a lot of sentimental attachment for her. She grew up in the home. Her parents purchased it when she was born from another family member, and her grandparents are buried on the property.
At the time of the fire, she was the only family member staying in the home, since her son had recently moved to Billings. She said she was sleeping more soundly than usual due to a new medication recently prescribed by her doctor. She said she is convinced that she would not have woken up had it not been for Coffey’s gallant efforts.
Since she lives in a remote area, technically just across the Wyoming/Montana state line, it took about 45 minutes for firefighters from the Carbon County Montana, Fire Department to find her. By the time they called the Deaver-Frannie Fire Department for assistance, it was too late. The home was severely damaged, along with most of its contents. Whether or not it will ever be inhabitable again has not been determined.
Holdsworth said the fire apparently started in the stovepipe going from her wood stove in the attic. Once the fire had breached the pipe, it quickly ignited the dry timbers and insulation in the attic.
“The part of the home where the fire started is really, really old,” said Holdsworth. “My grandparents built onto it. I had just cleaned the pipe recently, so I’m not sure why it happened.”
Holdsworth, who is disabled, has lived in the home since 1999. She is currently living in a nearby home owned by another family member.
In addition to most of her clothes and personal belongings, she also lost family photos and other irreplaceable items. Ironically, the only personal item to survive the fire was a set of drawings her grandfather made for her son during his childhood, while teaching him to draw.
Though technically Holdsworth’s home is in Montana, she considers the residents of nearby Frannie and Deaver her neighbors. And like all good neighbors, members of those communities have reached out to her after the fire, supplying her with clothes, toiletries and other items.
A benefit auction and luncheon is being held this Sunday starting at noon at the Deaver Town Hall with a free pulled pork lunch, followed by a live auction with professional auctioneers Josh Linebaugh and Andy Schwab of Powell. The auction includes original arts and crafts by local artisans, gift baskets and gift certificates for everything from house paint to groceries, homemade desserts and even a load of gravel donated and delivered by her good neighbors at Warren Transport.
Auction items and desserts for the event can be dropped off at Deaver Town Hall on Saturday, March 18, from 1 to 5 p.m. Cash donations are also welcome. For more information contact Patty Cline at 202-0439.
A GoFundMe account has also been set up for Holdsworth that can be accessed at www.gofundme.com/help-rebuild-my-sisters-life. Donations can also be made at the Wells Fargo Bank in Powell to the Tami Hazen Holdsworth Fire Fund.
By Patti Carpenter