ACCOKEEK, Md. - Pat Ellis lived in her Accokeek, Md., home for 29 years. As quick as a finger snap, it was gone in the flames of a Feb. 23 fire.
"You got your car, you got your kids, you got your dogs, but the whole life in that house is now gone," says Ellis.
Luckily, her son Sam, her special-needs daughter Angela and the family's four dogs made it out of the home. Coco, a Yorkie, got the worst of it: Firefighters pulled her, covered in soot and needing oxygen, from inside the house.
A Facebook page and a fundraising website have been created to help Ellis as she tries to find a new home. So far, more than $5,000 has been raised. The goal is to reach $100,000, which is the estimated cost of the fire damage.
The fund will be open for contributions until April 30.
For now, Ellis, Sam, Angela and two of the dogs are living with her older son, Eric, until they find a permanent living space.
Ellis is thankful to her neighbors and community for the donations they've given, as well as inquiries that have been made on how to help.
"But without a place to go, I can't exactly name off things, other than clothes and toiletries," she says.
A man has assured her when she's settled she can have his furniture.
Ellis is a bus driver for Charles County's VanGo shuttle bus service and says her salary limits her options on what she can afford. She's hoping to get some assistance from a loan officer to find a new place.
"No way I'll ever come back here. I can't. I wouldn't be able to afford it," says Ellis.
The cause of the fire is still under investigation. The home wasn't insured.
Ellis says she's broken down crying every day since, but she's working to keep the family uplifted. Finding a stable situation to care for Angela has been a challenge.
Sam, 18, is a senior in high school. He's missed days to care for Angela. Ellis has missed a day of work herself.
Coordinating schedules has become a game of chess, but she's confident she'll make the right moves.
Plus, one relationship has strengthened since the fire, and Ellis says she's upbeat about it.
"I think me and Coco have become much closer," Pat says, adding that the Yorkie is in "excellent' condition.
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