UPDATE: Fire Victim Fundraiser Raised Over $10K!

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The Burien Fire Victims Auction at Mick Kelly's was a huge success.UPDATE 7/17/08 10am: Last night’s Fire Victims Fundraiser brought in approximately $10,500!

Way to go B-Town!

Some of last night’s highlights:

  • Mick Kelly’s co-owners Mick Purdy and Adrian Kelly’s generous donation of one of their beloved soccer balls autographed by soccer superstar Pele sold for $825. The boys were so overwhelmed that they donated their second (and final, thus very precious) Pele ball which went for another $825 (for a total of $1,650).
  • Several victims of the fire were present, and all were very emotional about the outpouring from their generous neighbors; some spoke, some cried, and at times there wasn’t a dry eye in the house.
  • “This is my home forever,” said survivor John Miklosh, referring to the outpouring of support from the people of Burien and its firefighters. He had just bought an “I Love Burien” t-shirt the day before the fire at the Burien Strawberry Festival.
  • 29-year old Moriah Marlin, originally from Philadelphia, will always love Burien. “I never, and I mean NEVER, get two days in a row off.” By utter coincidence, Moriah’s employers happened to give her June 28th and 29th off. She and her family spent the weekend visiting friends. “We returned home Sunday morning to nothing.” Moriah’s speech was the emotional highlight of the night, as it was told through tears of both the pain of loss and and the joy of receiving true B-Town generosity.
  • According to one of the victims present, a man down the street shouted “You can all burn in hell!” to a resident of the Tara Apartments a few days before the fire. Police detained and released the man, who some said was in his mid-40s. Either this is a case of weird serendipity, or the dude knew something…
  • Lindy Kunimoto usually blocked his bedroom door before going to bed. As the flames spread, people outside could see Lindy’s fingers on the windowsill of his bedroom. People implored him to jump, a leap that would not have amounted to more than a six-foot fall to the ground below. Lindy (and it is not clear why) stayed put. The ceiling above him collapsed. Lindy Kunimoto was 49.
  • Thanks to everyone who helped out on this – it was truly a team effort and it was obvious from the selflessness that everyone had one goal in mind: to help the fire victims!

Some photos from tonight’s amazing event (move your mouse over photos to see info):

UPDATE 7:30pm: BTB Writer Mark Neuman has been visiting with several folks here tonight, and he’s met several fire survivors who are present. He files this report:

David Baggott, a fire survivor who lived at the Tara Apartments with his wife, Mom, Dad and their dog Missy, had a roommate named Lindy Kunimoto, 49, who he knew for 10 years. The reason David woke up the night of the fire is because Missy was barking; he could tell something was wrong. He reports that flames were so intense that he had to shut the door and retreat back into the apartment. He then knocked on Lindy’s door, but there was no answer and he couldn’t open it. David realized then that they had to get out, so he got his family out through a sliding glass door safely. As they were leaving, their ceiling crashed into the living room and bedrooms. Lindy never got out and one was of three fatalities.

Joel Handran, a fire victim, said “I feel traumatized…the whole experience is bending my brain, and I can’t thank everybody enough…” Pam Ward, his fiance’ was with him that night and both are here tonight; they have a 7-month old baby boy who survived. They were alerted to the fire because neighbors banged on their window. Joel highly recommends practicing fire escapes with your family: “Absolutely have a fire drill at home, no question about it – know how you’re going to get out no matter what…”

The Daddy-O’s are playing, more than 125 people are still eating, drinking and laughing with their mouths full here at the Burien Fire Fundraiser at Mick Kelly’s;  the Silent Auction closes at 8pm and the Live Auction starts very soon.

In the Silent Auction right now, Body Matters’ One-Hour Massage worth $60 bucks currently has a high bid of $30. The Mark Restaurant’s $50 gift certificate is currently bidding at $30. A silent bidder, who strangely spoke up with the aroma of an imported beer on her breath, revealed that she has bid just $15 on a Trader Joe’s pasta and olive oil gift basket valued at $36.

So come on down – not only is this for a great cause, but there are bargains to be had as well!

As we noted earlier, there are several fire victims here tonight, along with at least 10 members of the Burien/Normandy Park Fire Dept (including some who fought the fire).

We spoke with special guests John Miklosh and his fiance’ Sharon Howell, two fire survivors here who lived in the Jenny Marie apartments. Around 12:31am on the night of the fire, John was on his deck smoking a cig, and he heard a man yell what he thought was “fight fight fight!” but was in actuality “fire fire fire!” He then noticed a parked van ablaze near the building and quickly got out in time.

John and Sharon used to give popsicles to a cute, chubby little neighbor boy Edgar, the 8-year old who tragically died in the fire. “He was so cute,” Sharon said of Edgar, as her eyes swelled up.

John then said “I cannot tell you how much I love the people of Burien, because they’ve done so much for us…” before starting to tear up.

Luckily they have found a new apartment, and despite the fire they saved their cat Coco.

Patty Sader, Executive Director of Discover Burien, is here working hard despite a sore throat and flu, and is “overwhelmed and amazed at the generosity of the people of Burien who made this all possible. Because you just don’t put together an auction of this size in two weeks.”

Some really cool last-minute auction items have arrived, and include:

  • A gorgeous, framed autographed photo of Mariner legend Edgar Martinez in action
  • A collectible mini football helmet autographed by Pro Bowl cornerback Marcus Trufant
  • A $1 million dollar proof “bill” that is made of .999 pure silver and is layered in 24 carot pure gold and is a 1/4 pound troy
  • Two framed, autographed photo portraits of Mariner All-Star Ichiro:

Elinor, a server here at Mick Kelly’s, says tonight’s special is Grilled Salmon with a Mango Salsa and Rice, or Garlic Mashed Potatoes; comes with Asparagus, or by golly, you can chow down on Beef Stroganoff.

Several survivors of the fire have arrived, and the Burien Fire Dept. has just parked their ladder truck out front:

We’ll be doing updates live all night, but if you’re reading this now and thinking of coming, we recommend you get here soon, as the Silent Auction runs from 6-8pm; the Live Auction begins at 7:30pm and The Daddios are about to start.

More to come soon…

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