‘God’s got your back’ Community turns Ferndale blaze into a blessing


FERNDALE -- All they were trying to do was keep some feral kitties warm. The next thing they knew, they were standing in the sub-freezing snow, watching their house burn down.

Photo courtesy Patricia Posedel Above: Firefighters cleaning up. Right: Charred remnants of Christmas covered with ash.

But, what started as a tragedy, turned out to be a blessing for LeAnn and Gary Moon, whose charity for those kitties was returned a thousand-fold.

“We just want to send out a great thank you,” said LeAnn during an interview just three weeks after the fire. “We’re doing fine and I would like to say there isn’t any better place in the world than this one.”

From the moment friends and neighbors found out about the early morning Feb. 3 fire, the Moons were lavished with emotional and material support.

“They have been so extremely kind to us,” LeAnn said. “I didn’t know people like this still existed.”

LeAnn, 60, and Gary, 74, have been together and lived in their century-old house for about 18 years, she said. They share the house with an now-heroic dog named Mila and a pet-feral cat who claims the porch from time to time.

The day of the fire, a neighbor took them in so they had a place to stay and within a few days, they found a widow who had a studio apartment the Moons moved into. Gary, who is handy around the house, will improve the apartment in exchange for living there.

“We’re moving into a studio which will be great,” LeAnn said. “She needed someone there and we needed a place. We’re helping her and she’s helping us.”

Hours after news of the fire was reported, gift cards, clothes and other materials started flowing into the barbershop, where Gary works as a hairstylist, LeAnn said. “Donations came mostly private people we haven’t even talked to,” she said. A pair of doctors who operated on the Moons’ friend made a major donations. “We’ve never laid eyes on them.”

But in the moments during and after the fire, their friends stepped up without question. When Patricia Posedel, a friend and neighbor for 7 years, found out about the active fire, she called Gary’s best friend, a military veteran who wants to remain anonymous, and told him to, “...get over to the Moons’ right away!” “Without him, I don’t know what we would have done,” she said. Soon, LeAnn sent a text message to Patricia telling her she was standing in the snow in bare feet.

“So, I called a neighbor and said LeAnn needs boots and I gathered up some stuff like I was going on a trip and met the at (the Veteran’s) home.” When they arrived, firefighters were still dousing the fire and Patricia took cell phone pictures of the devastation.

One picture shows the remnants of the recent Christmas holiday - a Christmas stocking and a few decorations - slightly singed and covered with ash.

“When we got there, Gary looked like he was in shock,” Patricia said. “I feel wonderful that we could help but I feel I did nothing of any significance. Anybody would have done it. How could you not?”

She hopes the disaster-turned-blessing will spread a more universal message. “I’m proud to be a part of this community and proud to be an American,” she said. “And I wish others would take notice and stop all the fighting and rioting.”

THE FIRE(S) The evening of Jan. 2 was bitterly cold as the Moons settled into their Old South Ferndale Drive home for the evening and discovered a feral pet cat delivered kittens.

“So we put out a heat lamp on the porch to keep them warm,” LeAnn said.

At about 6:30 p.m., Mila, a chocolate Lab, became agitated.

“We were watching TV and Mila started jumping up and down,” Le Ann said. “When I got up to see what the dog was doing, the back porch was on fire and it was gone. It went up like a match,”

The Ferndale Fire Department, a volunteer group, arrived quickly and put out the blaze, saving much of the house.

But overnight, some embers kept glowing and reignited the blaze at about midnight.

Gary, LeAnn, Mile and the cats made it out with no injuries. But the house was a complete loss.

“We lost everything,” she said. Gary had 45 years of collectibles that went up in smoke, as did the rest of their belongings.

“It’s just stuff and you don’t realize until you look at each other and you got your dog and your husband that God’s got your back,” she said.

The Moons own several outbuildings and vehicles that were unaffected but they needed a place to stay ASAP and will put the lease up for sale.

As for the cat and her kittens, they are making the move with the Moons. During their recovery, the Moons received a donation and a card that said, “Thanks for taking care of the cats.”

Denny’s Barber Shop accepting collections and they may have a go fund me account: I believe for the Moons. You can reach Lea Ann at 407-2223


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