Joe Condron’s home is no longer the charred shell left by a fire that took the life of his 2-year-old granddaughter on her birthday.
But the 40-year-old house on Land Rush Drive in north Arlington remains uninhabitable, a’ year after the community rallied to resurrect it.
“I’m praying we will be able to get the funding required to finish out the house,” Condron said.
Condron’s granddaughter LilyAnn died in the June 2, 2013, blaze. On top of the tragedy, he had no homeowners insurance. The future of the home was uncertain until a family friend began organizing volunteers and fundraisers to rebuild it.
Last April, volunteers gutted the interior and removed the burned contents. Then in July, Condron and his wife won a contest for a free roof, and new wiring, windows and woodwork have also been installed both inside and out.
The fundraising, however, has dwindled, and several costly projects — such as putting in drywall and flooring — still need to be done. Condron said he hasn’t been able to find a charitable organization to finish the project, noting that the remaining work must be done by skilled laborers and not volunteers. About $15,000 to $20,000 in repairs still need to be done.
Condron hopes to move back into the home by June but said there are too many unknowns to set a goal. He has called 40 to 50 agencies seeking help, “but so far nothing has panned out.”
John Thielman, the family friend who was coordinating the rebuild, said city officials have been understanding about the slowdown and continue to make monthly inspections to ensure that progress is being made. He remains involved in the effort, although he has had to cut back on his efforts because he has a new job.
Thielman and Condron are thankful for all the help the family has received. They said the community response was nothing short of miraculous, noting that dozens of restaurants donated a portion of nightly proceeds toward the rebuild, churches donated money raised from garage sales, and retail stores and individuals gave gift cards.
“We wouldn’t be here without a lot of help from a lot of different people,” Thielman said. “I’m very confident we’re going to complete this.”
Condron said his family is healing from the death of LilyAnn, but the pain lingers, especially for his daughter Joann, the girl’s mother.
“The healing process is slow because of the tragedy,” Condron said. ”We’re closer now than we ever have been, but the scars are still there.”