April 3, 2022
By Jasmine Willis
WAYLAND — A benefit was held to support the victims of the Main Street fire.
On Feb. 22 a morning blaze took out several apartments and businesses on Main Street in Wayland. The fire was a shock to the entire community as they tried to come together in this tragedy. The Wayland American Legion and Wayland United Methodist Church held the benefit on April 2 at 3 p.m.
Several of the fire victims spoke to this local reporter. Sandy Chen and Eddy Wu, Main Moon Chinese Restaurant owners lost not only their business but their home in the Main Street blaze. Chen said her family is still in shock over losing everything in the fire. “We really appreciate all of the help we have been getting from everyone. It means so much to us,” she said. “We have lived and worked in Wayland for over eight years. We can’t believe we lost everything in that fire. We lost all of our things in our home and restaurant.” Chen said the roof burned through into the home and created a lot of damage. “We hope we will be able to open our restaurant again sometime. We are still waiting to hear about the fire report. We love the community so much. We want to stay here for many more years,” she said. Chen said when the fire happened, she only had a couple of minutes to evacuate. Chen tried to go upstairs to get her documents, but only had time to get her family out of the building. When the fire happened it all happened so fast. We only had a couple of minutes to get out. I tried to get my documents, but only had time to get my family out. We were so glad to have the Barber Shop across the street. She made my whole family feel safe when the fire happened,” Chen said. “My daughter Annie is having a hard time with the fire. Whenever she smells any smoke she gets very angry. We think about what we lost and we all get very sad.”
Annie (age 13) and Allen (age 3) are in need of summer clothes donations. Annie wears size medium shirts and pants. Allen wears size 4T shirts and 3T pants. Chen said she just needs summer clothes for her children. The Wu Family are looking for a larger apartment to move to is one becomes available. Right now they are all in a small studio apartment, but are very grateful.
Don Button lived alone an apartment above Simply Harmony. He said he slept through the fire alarm until 11 a.m. “I was the only one who had renters’ insurance. I wasn’t able to save anything from the fire. I lost everything in the smoke and water damage,” he said. “I slept through the alarm, because you hear the fire whistle go off all the time. I didn’t think it was going off in our building. When I woke up it was a little after 11 a.m. and I noticed there was smoke coming from the hallway.” Button said he only had time to grab his wallet and run out of the building. He saved the neighbor’s dog that was trying to run back up the stairs. Button said he is hoping to have a place this week. He is grateful for all the help he has gotten since the fire.
“I have known Kevin Mark since we were in grade school together. He reached out to me when the fire happened. I told them I was going to need my transmission fixed on my truck to get back to work. Kevin came down to get the keys from me and the legion took it down to get it fixed. They paid to have my transmission done for me. I am going to get my truck back soon,” he said. Button said people need to be more aware of what they are doing, and not walk away from things when they are cooking. He feels strongly that fire extinguishers need to be in all of the apartments as well. Button said if people were more careful it would’ve saved 11 families and three businesses losing everything.
Ashley Bennett said that she lived in the apartment right next to the one that caught fire. Her daughter was home alone when the fire started. “Her kitchen and mine are back-to-back. I was at work when the fire started, and my daughter was at home with the cat. The alarms are so sensitive in those buildings and go off when you are cooking bacon or a burger,” she said. “I have worked with the Springwater/Wayland EMS for a little over two years now. I was on call when the alarm went off. I didn’t know until a deputy told me that the fire started in my building.” Bennett said she immediately was terrified for her daughter. She found out that her daughter made it safely outside the building with the cat, and was being watched over by friends. “Once I knew my daughter had made it out safely, I had to help out with everyone else. I couldn’t be there emotionally. I couldn’t think about how I had just lost years of my life in this fire. I had to take care of the fire fighter’s vitals and make sure they could keep fighting. I had to focus all of my energy on my job. We lived there three years,” she said.
Bennett said her Chief Fred Grambs opened up his home to she and her daughter to stay until they find a place. She is very grateful to the community support and donations. Right now, she is looking for an apartment to move to in Wayland. “When I got all of these donations from people all over there were some things we couldn’t use. I had men’s clothes and things like that given to me. But I gave what we couldn’t use personally to the other fire victims. Everyone has been truly great to all of us,” she said.
The Wayland American Legion is holding the Wayland Fire Benefit Fund for any donations to the victims. You can reach out to the legion if interested. Contact them at 585-728-2230.