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Couple who lost all in fire finding strong support from family, friends

The home rented by Vicki Norton and Darryl Parsons near New London is shown after a lightning strike caused a fire June 14. (Submitted photo courtesy of Terry Smith)

By Kyle Rozendaal

NEW LONDON — Vicki Norton and Darryl Parsons recently lost almost all of their physical possessions in a house fire caused by a lightning strike June 14.

The couple moved in and began renting their home on the north shore of Calhoun Lake near New London in November 2013 with the intent of purchasing it this fall after their wedding in August.

“The day it happened was surreal,” said Norton in a recent interview. “Our first warning was Darryl seeing the flames while making coffee. We grabbed as many important things as we could and ran outside. The first responder was someone from the Sheriff’s Office. In a situation like that you feel completely helpless watching the fire go from room to room, destroying everything. You can watch your entire world go up in smoke.”

New London Fire Chief Sig Holm told the Tribune previously that firefighters found the front half of the upper level on fire and high winds spread the fire into the roof area. The call came in about at 7:15 a.m. June 14.

Once the firefighters arrived from New London, Spicer, Atwater and Paynesville, it took between four and five hours to extinguish the flames.

“We lost everything,” said Norton. “Both of our cars and our furniture are all gone, we didn’t even get out with a toothbrush. We were extremely underinsured, which creates another scary lesson to learn right now. But thankfully, no one was injured which is truly a blessing.”

The couple is hopeful of still salvaging a few sentimental items from the wreckage in the coming days.

“The community around us and the emergency response workers have been amazing. Words cannot come close to describing how thankful I am right now,” said Norton. “The Salvation Army, The Link, family, friends and co-workers have all reached out to us and supported us by donating clothes and money. Family and friends have been there for emotional support which has been awesome at a time like this, just a hug goes a long way.”

Norton’s career is in counseling, and she is employed by Community Addiction Recovery Enterprise in Willmar.

“I’m used to being the one to help people, and now we’re struggling and in need of help,” said Norton. “I know my situation is bad, but I look at the news and see the flooding, the other fires and the tornadoes and all I can think about is how much these other people need help. I wish there was a way I could help others during their pain.”

Their church community, friends and family have been working together in an attempt to find a furnished place for the couple to move into.

“As my grandmother used to say ‘there is growth in pain.’ I see the truth in that now and I guess we must be growing a lot lately.” said Norton with a chuckle. “My fiancé and I are doing as well as we can together, our faith in God grounds us and we believe he will bring us through it all.”

Alongside community help, Norton’s son and friends have started a fund to help get the couple back on their feet. Donations can be sent to Vicki Norton, 1331 Westwood Court N.W., Willmar, MN 56201.