Late Saturday morning on May 15, Keanu and Kortni Ellison lost everything they owned in a devastating apartment complex fire on Route 22. From their wedding photos to their beloved cat, everything was gone in a matter of 20 minutes.
Kortni reflected on the evening after the fire and recalled her heartbreak.
“Saturday night, we met the Red Cross that night and got our donation card,” she said. “We went out and got clothes to last us about a week. That was expensive. We got food and treated ourselves to some Taco Bell, we got the dogs some food and new leashes. We went out to Glens Falls, got all that stuff, and then came back to my mom’s house and we just sat there in silence for like three hours, four maybe.”
The trauma of the fire set in quickly for the Ellisons that night. Sleeping was difficult and the paranoia of wondering if there would be another fire lingered in their minds.
“It was rough. My husband woke up numerous times throughout the night with nightmares. My dogs wouldn’t sleep. I didn’t sleep. The days just blurred together,” she said.
The first week after the fire was a tough one for the couple and their dogs. They struggled with mourning the loss of their cat and belongings, but quickly got to work on getting their lives back on track.
With nowhere to stay than with family, the Ellisons were able to find a home to call their own. They are now relocating to a home off of Route 22A and renovating the entire home.
“My friend, Amber, messaged me that I worked with at the Granville McDonalds back in 2015, her uncle owns this, and he inherited it… he was a hoarder and he lived here for 30 to 35 years. They recently got him out, two years ago, and it’s just been here sitting and rotting. Amber told me that she would talk to her uncle because she saw the news about the fire and her uncle said that if we wanted to do renovations and fix it up, that he had no problems with that and then we’ll do a rent-to-own,” she said.
The home is spacious for the family and the dogs and includes an extra room for a baby that the Ellisons hope to bring into the world soon. There’s plenty of land for the dogs to roam and the family couldn’t be more excited to be moving forward.
“So, what our plan is, we want to fix it up to be livable, and then when we buy it outright, we’re going to refinance it and put a new mobile home in,” she said. “That’s further down the line, but that’s our long-term goal.”
With summer just beginning, the Ellisons will be renovating the home through the summer and hoping the home will be finished within the next six to nine months. Whenever they have time off from work, they have been at the house working on the renovations. New floors, siding and more are still on their list.
“Everywhere I go everyone is like ‘oh you were in that fire,’ and I’m like ‘yeah, yeah I was,’ and then they go ‘you look like you’re doing so much better,’ and I was like ‘yeah I am.’ I’m doing a whole lot better.”