Happy to start over

Michelle Wilson, shown here with her dog, Lilly, is starting over after losing everything in the Jan. 14 fire at 1930 Shore Road in Linwood, where she was a tenant.

Submitted

EGG HARBOR TOWNSHIP — Michelle Wilson lost two cats and everything she owned in the Jan. 14 fire at 1930 Shore Road in Linwood, but she is neither bitter nor angry. She and her 8-year-old daughter, Morgan, and their dog, Lilly, were not home that night.

Wilson said she was visiting her cousin in Galloway Township Saturday, Jan. 13, with her daughter and 6-year-old stepdaughter. They had made plans to stay over and had brought the dog along.

“I woke up Sunday morning to a text message from a friend who is a volunteer firefighter in another town asking what my address was in Linwood, and when I texted 1930 Shore Road, he told me my house was on fire,” Wilson said.

“I was shocked and worried because I knew my cats were in the house along with everything we owned.”

She headed to the house with her daughter, and when she saw the condition of the place she had called home for the last six months she immediately realized how fortunate they were.

“We would never have made it out of the house. I would have been on the second floor, and the girls would have been on the third floor in Morgan’s room,” Wilson said.

She said she spoke with the fire inspector, who told her the fire started under the steps to the second floor and that the stairs had collapsed, and the fire shot through the roof.

“That is right where we would have been,” Wilson said.

“I was really shocked to see the house, but I really had to keep my demeanor in check. I did not want my daughter to be frightened. So while we were really in shock for a few days, we are going to be OK,” Wilson said.

Wilson said her daughter kept searching the yard and the neighborhood hoping that their 4-year-old cat, Bella, and 6-month-old kitten — named Crunch because it was always getting underfoot — might have made it out.

They did not.

While Wilson said everything is replaceable, she is especially saddened at the loss of everything her grandparents, Sonny and Stella Sciutto, had given her.

Both have passed away, and the furniture she had from their home in Atlantic City, along with some ceramics and pottery, were special to her.

“I am not a religious person, but somebody was looking out for me. I think it might have been my grandparents,” said Wilson.

“I cannot even be angry; I am just so thankful that we were not there and that we are safe. We will replace the material things.”

Friends have donated clothes and some household items, and a former employer started a GoFundMe page on Wilson's behalf to help her get back on her feet. As of Wednesday morning $1,550 of the $5,000 goal had been raised.

Wilson, who works as a sales representative with Perfect Air Solutions, said she is happy to have a job. She is renting a two-bedroom ranch-style home in Egg Harbor Township.

“I looked at several places, and after that fire, we are going to stick to one floor," she said.

"No condos, no second story for us. This rancher is just perfect for Morgan, Lilly, our new kitten and me.”

The multifamily residence at 1930 Shore Road was destroyed by the fire, which Linwood fire official Charles Kisby has ruled accidental.

Donations to help the Wilson family get back on their feet can be made at gofundme.com/fire-devistation-and-loss.

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