Family recovering after fire destroyed houseHome was more than just the house in Flasher to Bob and Myra Olson. It was their three children’s school, the place Myra Olson taught their daughter, Brianna, to cook and sew, the space Myra Olson used to exhaust her creative efforts in decorating, the base to which the five of them would return after hunting and fishing.
By: By Jenny Michael, Bismarck Tribune, The Jamestown Sun
FLASHER, N.D. — Home was more than just the house in Flasher to Bob and Myra Olson. It was their three children’s school, the place Myra Olson taught their daughter, Brianna, to cook and sew, the space Myra Olson used to exhaust her creative efforts in decorating, the base to which the five of them would return after hunting and fishing.
“Our lives — Bob and my lives — are centered around our family, and thus our family home,” Myra Olson said. “I loved that house.”
The Olsons still are trying to come to terms with what they lost in the Oct. 24 fire that destroyed the house in Flasher they lived in for almost six years.
Bob Olson grew up in Jamestown and is a 1988 Jamestown High School graduate.
Myra Olson was with Brianna, 11, and Travis, 9, in Bismarck when she found out about the fire.
“I was just in utter shock,” she said. “I almost fell over.”
Their lives revolved around the house. Myra Olson home-schools the children, so they lost their school books and materials.
“We were pretty much home bodies,” she said.
The hardest to deal with for the family, including Brandon, 12, has been the loss of their pets. Belle, an almost-9-year-old yellow lab, and Bear, a Pomeranian puppy, died in the fire, which was reported at 11:15 a.m. Oct. 24.
“If we could change anything at all, it would be to have the pets back,” Bob Olson said.
Myra Olson said they probably will get new pets some day, when their lives are more settled.
“It will take awhile before we are able to do that. It’s just hard to do right now,” she said, touching her hand to her chest.
Every day, the family realizes something else they lost in the fire. On Oct. 25, Brianna revealed that she had taken off a locket from a grandmother. Myra Olson said Travis was struck by the loss of his LEGOS collection, and Brianna by the loss of her books and crafts. Myra Olson fought back tears remembering the mixing bowl left to her by her husband’s grandmother, who died in March.
“I can buy another mixing bowl, but I can never replace grandma’s mixing bowl,” she said.
The family of avid readers lost many books, including ones necessary for the children’s schooling. Myra Olson said friends in the Bismarck-Mandan home-schooling group brought them books, which will be helpful when they resume their studies next week.
Friends and strangers in general have been generous, Bob Olson said. Before he even made it back to Flasher when he learned about the fire, his coworkers at BNSF Railway had rented the family a hotel room for four nights.
“Without the help of friends and people we don’t know, it would be a lot harder to deal with all this,” he said. He called the assistance “amazing and humbling.”
“We don’t know how we’ll ever go about thanking all these people,” Myra Olson said.
The Olsons said prayers also have helped get them through the rough time.
“If we didn’t have our faith in God, this would be impossible to get through,” she said.
“We could have lost more than just our house and pets,” Bob Olson said. “We could have lost all of us.”
For now, the Olsons are staying at a Bismarck hotel, a tiny room compared to the roomy house in Flasher. Brianna called it “cramped.” Bob Olson would rather be in his own space.
“It’s not my house,” he said. “The people here are great, but it’s not the same as being in my house.”
They’re exploring options for where to go next, but nothing has been settled.
A benefit and collection has been set up for the family at Railway Credit Union in Bismarck and Mandan. The credit union has a list of the family’s sizes. Myra Olson said they ask that no one donate furniture or larger items, because they don’t have any storage and are not settled on where they are going to move.