Community support is being sought for a 92-year-old man who lost a lot of his personal possessions in a Christmas Eve fire at Sportsman's Cove Yacht & Racquet Club.
Vernon Huntoon, originally from the outer suburbs of Detroit, Mich., lived alone in unit 206 in the condominium facility. The fire was in unit 205 and affected four of the 12 units within one of the condo association's buildings. Other than 205, Huntoon's condo bore the brunt of the fire, which may have been caused by electrical wiring or an exhaust fan.
"He has pretty much lost all of his worldly possessions," said Fort Myers Beach Fire Control District Capt. Ron Martin regarding Huntoon's townhouse.
While Huntoon's condo is paid off, his insurance was dropped prior to the fire, so reconstruction/remodeling costs will have to come out of his pocket. It may take up to six months before he is able to return to his living quarters.
Martin and many fire personnel members from Fire Station #32 and the Beach's Community Emergency Response Team went beyond the call of duty the day after Christmas by packing up salvageable items and loading them into a U-Haul truck (donated unanimously) and other service vehicles for transportation to Kelly Road Self Storage, who donated at least one storage unit until Huntoon can move back in.
According to Sportsman's condominium president Richard Smith, an account is being set up for donations at Fifth Third Bank if anyone is interested in providing monetary contributions. The Beach Kiwanis have offered donations from their thrift store, while George Lowrimore and Marcela Talley have offered the use of their unused condo in Bonita Springs.
"I never knew I had so many friends," said Huntoon, who has been staying at his girlfriends' home also in Bonita Springs since the fire.
If anyone is interested in helping the displaced man, either stop by any Fifth Third Bank (the account is set up at the branch off of Summerlin Road next to Ruby Tuesdays) or call a Fifth Third Bank representative at 1-800-972-3030 for more information.