It was just a month ago that Joe Lyons lost every earthly possession except the clothes on his back when his home in Trailer Estates exploded.
Friends and family are trying to help him get back on his feet.
In the early morning hours of Dec. 4, Lyons, 65, woke up to smoke and the sound of fire alarms. Lyons said all he could see was smoke, prompting him to get out of bed and head toward a neighbor’s house.
When he opened the front door, flames erupted in his Trailer Estates mobile home on the corner of Florida Boulevard and Marina Drive. Trailer Estates Fire District Volunteer Fire Chief Tim Hillman said at the time of the fire that when Lyons opened the door to leave, he introduced oxygen to the fire.
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But Lyons said he was on oxygen and had tanks sitting in the living room. He said he could hear them explode as the home burned. The fire was initially ruled accidental.
In a final report from the state Bureau of Fire and Arson Investigations, the cause of the fire is listed as undetermined. The investigation was able to determine it originated in the dining area.
Since the explosion, Lyons — who is retired — has been living with his brother in a two-bedroom apartment in Bradenton just a couple miles from where Lyons’ home once stood and is now just a pile of ashes and mangled metal.
Lyons is also thankful for a friend like Collette Quinehan.
Quinehan helped Lyons get some basic essentials after the fire, including his reading glasses. A couple of weeks ago, she helped him set up a bank account in hope people would donate to her friend who lost so much. The donations account is at Regions Bank at 6001 26th St. W.
There’s no room for any physical donations at his brother’s small apartment, Lyons said, so he’s just looking for a place to live.
“No set amount, but I guess my dream would be to raise about $15,000. That would get first and last month’s rent, security (deposit), clothes and dishes,” Quinehan said. “I know that wouldn’t come close to covering a car.”
Lyons’ car was also lost in the flames.
“It means a lot — it means everything, because I could just be standing in the middle of the street alone,” Lyons said. “She’s a good friend of mine, so I knew she’d do something, but I didn’t know what. I knew she’d think of something.”
Donations can be directed to Regions Bank by calling 941-751-4400 or by stopping by the bank at 6001 26th St. W., Bradenton.