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Date of Issue: June 18, 2008

Fire destroys HB city worker's home

Holmes Beach city employees are rallying to help one of their own, whose family lost a home to fire May 31.

“The foundation is there, but the fire gutted the house,” public works foreman Gary Blunden said of the east Bradenton home where his colleague, Wayne Vandermolen, lived with his family. Vandermolen has a wife, Alison, and two sons who attended Anna Maria Elementary School.

Blunden said city employees plan to organize a car wash in the next several weeks to raise money to help the Vandermolens recover.

“I’m going to do a benefit in the next couple of weeks and others are going to help,” Blunden said. “We need to let people know what happened. We want to do something.”

Wayne Vandermolen is the city’s assistant maintenance foreman, part of a six-person crew in public works.

Blunden said the crewmembers are eager to help - they “have a lot of heart, but not a lot of money.”

The fire apparently was caused by an electrical problem in the home, which the Vandermolens paid off just this past year.

“It’s all burned out,” said Blunden, speaking on behalf of the Vandermolens and announcing plans to help raise money.

“It was a total loss,” said Holmes Beach City Commissioner Sandy Haas-Martens, adding that she hoped to collect donated retail gift cards to help the Vandermolens replace lost household items.

Blunden said compounding the tragedy of the Vandermolens losing their home and possessions is the fact that the structure was not insured.

“The insurance had been canceled,” Blunden said. “And there was a problem getting it on the older home.… Bottom line, he doesn’t have insurance.”

In addition to the car wash benefit, Blunden said an account, the Fund for Alison and Wayne Vandermolen, also has been opened for donations at Regions Bank, 3900 Sixth Ave., Holmes Beach.