Culture Headlines

Efforts for Magnolia Families Displaced by Fire

By Terry Rogers

Trish and Richard Brauer were on vacation at the home of a relative in Alabama, 14 hours away from their Magnolia home, when they received a call that their home on Viola Drive had been completely destroyed by a fire that not also destroyed the homes of their neighbors.

“Our two amazing Labradors, Yager and Teenie, were in the basement and we lost them as well,” Ms. Brauer said. “Our dogs are our family and we don’t even know where to begin. We are very grateful that we and our neighbors are alive, but the 14-hour drive back to Delaware was very difficult knowing everything we had was gone.”

Erin Baker, a family friend, set up a Go Fund Me campaign for the couple and their two children. To date, the fund has raised almost $11,000 of the original $5,000 goal. Another Go Fund Me, set up by Crystal Banks Cobbs has raised $825 toward a $5,000 goal.

The Meadows at Chestnut Ridge Homeowner’s Association is holding a fundraiser on Friday, June 24, 2016. “A Taste of Italy” dinner will be held at The Reserve at Chestnut Ridge Community Clubhouse. The dinner is open to the public, not just to residents of the development. Dinner includes baked ziti, homemade meatballs, garlic bread, salad and a drink for $5 per plate. All funds raised, including the cost of the meal, will go to the families affected by the fire.


“As of now, we have not determined a cause for the fire,” said Alan Brown of the Delaware State Fire Marshall’s Office. “The family was not at home when the fire began, so we are still investigating.” The home where it is believed the fire began was completely destroyed and will need to be rebuilt. Homes on either side of that residence have little more than framing still standing.

According to reports, neighbors reported smoke coming from the home, but the fire had fully engulfed the home by the time Magnolia Volunteer Fire Company arrived. The initial call at 5:16 PM on Sunday, June 12, reported a fire at 162 Viola Drive. Multiple fire companies responded to the alarm, but even with 50 firefighters on the scene, it took several hours to extinguish. Magnolia Fire Chief R.W. Rhodes, said that the wind on Sunday may have helped spread the fire. In addition to the three homes that were destroyed, several neighboring homes experienced melted siding due to the high heat. One firefighter was treated for a dislocated shoulder. There were early reports that the fire hydrants in the neighborhood were not working, but Magnolia Fire Company said that there were no issues and the hydrants worked fine.

“Magnolia Fire Company as well as the other four fire companies that responded certainly deserve our deepest gratitude,” the HOA posted on their Facebook page. “As everyone knows, they are 100 percent volunteers. They do this to simply serve the public and their neighbors. When you have a chance, please just shake their hands and let them know we appreciate them.”

The Delmarva Red Cross was working with the families who were displaced due to the fire. It is estimated the fire caused more than $500,000 in damages in the neighborhood. The Meadows at Chestnut Ridge Homeowner’s Association is collecting items for the families as well. The HOA has posted lists of items that can be donated to the families through them on their Facebook page ( In addition, Ms. Baker’s Go Fund Me ( has a list of items to help the Bauer’s. Those who wish to help can also donate to the Go Fund Me ( set up by Ms. Cobbs.

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