A Mint Hill family’s worst nightmare has come with a silver lining. On the evening of November 22, a spark escaped through a crack in the chimney and into the attic of Melissa Blando and her three kids’ home. The resulting fire caused enough damage that the house has to be torn down and rebuilt.
Melissa Blando and her two boys (ages 15 and 11) and one girl (13) have learned a lot since then, especially how much the community rallies around people in times of need. They have been living with her brother who lives next door.
The fire started when a spark escaped through a crack in the fire place and then ignited the attic.
Melissa said so many people helped her family in the days after the fire that she can’t remember them all to thank. She hoped this article would reach everyone to let them know how thankful she was.
The Blandos live on David Drive off Matthews-Mint Hill Road in Mint Hill. Melissa said she doesn’t recall a lot from the night of the fire because of the trauma and the chaos that surrounded the evening. But she does remember the Mint Hill Fire Department getting to the fire quickly and comforting her and the children as they worked to put the fire out. Melissa’s dad had passed away the previous February, and one of her son’s kept his wallet with a fire department badge in it. The Mint Hill Fire Department went into the house to not only get the wallet, but a stuffed animal that one of the other children cherished.
“I wish I could remember that night because they really took care of us,” Blando said.
The day after the fire, Melissa’s youngest son’s teacher and guidance counselor from Bain Elementary School showed up with shoes, clothes and other items for the family. In the days that followed, teachers from Independence High School, where her oldest attends, and Mint Hill Middle School, where her daughter attends, helped out with gift cards.
“Everybody has really embraced us,” she said. “It was just tremendous.”
The Blandos lost nearly everything they owned that night. There were some clothes that were salvaged, and a few furniture pieces, but most everything else was damaged in the fire.
“I learned a lot of lessons from that night,” she said. “Like to be thankful for what you have and don’t take things for granted and to be more humble.”
Melissa said she rarely accepted help from others before the fire because she was proud that she could support herself and her family. The experience, she said, taught her about humility.
She moved to Mint Hill in 2006 from a small town in South Carolina where she said everyone knew each other and helped each other out. When she moved to Mint Hill she thought she would lose the close-knit community feel.
“I thought when I moved here I would lose the small town, community feel. But this changed my mind. Everybody pulled together and I can’t thank everyone enough.”