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 Autumn House Fires Keep Local Fire Fighters Busy as Relief Fund Need Grows

November 5, 2008 - Knightstown house fires in late September and early October kept area fire fighters busy and crated additional need within the Knightstown Volunteer Fire Department’s (KVFD) relief fund. According to KVFD member Steve Wilkerson, who founded the relief fund a few years ago with his brother, Jeff, local fires have heavily taxed the relief fund.

On September 24, a three-alarm fire broke out in the Raysville home of Martha Dill (see photos here). Fire fighters from Knightstown, Spiceland, and Dunreith fought the blaze for hours before finally extinguishing it late that evening. So intense were the flames that the firemen were even called out the next day to douse still-smoldering embers. Almost completely destroyed, the home has since been uninhabitable.

One week later, on October 1, fire broke out in the Knightstown home of Joe and Penny Patton on State Road 109 just north of Knightstown Elementary School (see photos here). Although the fire was corralled in the home’s second floor attic, water and smoke seriously damages the Patton home, causing the family to temporarily relocate in Knightstown. Although neither of the recent fire victims received monetary disbursements from the local relief fund, other local people – not just those whose lives were decimated by fires 0 did get help.

On a lighter note, Knightstown fire fighters on Saturday participated in the “controlled burn” of a decrepit barn owned by the Town of Knightstown, located at the corner of County Road 775-W and U.S. 40 (see photos here). Firemen spent the afternoon igniting and tending the fire and reducing the pile of old lumber to ash.


The KVFD Relief Fund offers assistance not only to those effected by house fires, but also families and individuals who’ve fallen on hard times and need help. For example, a local family who lost their middle-aged patriarch received some funds, as did the children of a Knightstown woman who was murdered in Indianapolis.

Those and other disbursements virtually emptied the relief fund prior to the onset to the holidays. According to relief fund co-founder Jeff Wilkerson, the need in the Knightstown area is nothing if it’s not growing. “We just want to do something locally and help out some people”, Jeff said.

Jeff’s brother, Steve, echoed those sentiments. “I’ve already got people that are needing help already with Christmas,” he said. “With the way these times are, people just don’t have the money. And the ones who are already struggling – it’s worse for them. The need is just unreal, for such a small town.”

Although donations are down, Steve said the relief fund has been very fortunate in getting donations. Working with the Knightstown Cheer Guild, another holiday-oriented relief organization, the KVFD Relief Fund is able to address needs that sometimes “fall through the cracks.” “We don’t compete with the Cheer Guild,” Steve said. “We try to work together and assess the needs. We discuss what we’re doing. We try to pick up the ones that sometimes get overlooked – just so the kids in this town will have a Christmas.”

Steve said the relief fund needs many items, besides monetary donations. Donations of new children’s toys, as well as new gloves, hats and coats for all ages are especially desirable. “We need donations of things we’d ordinarily have to buy, including wrapping paper, tape, bows, gif boxes, ribbon and gift tags,” Steve said.

Gift items, gift giving supplies and monetary donations can all be dropped off at the Knightstown Volunteer Fire Department on South Washington Street, or at Knightstown Town Hall. For more information about the relief fund and how to contribute, call Jeff Wilkerson at 345-7471 of Steve Wilkerson at 445-2393.


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