Back on Track: Community helps Morin Racing rebuild after fire

Monday, July 10, 2017
Firefighters were on scene in the early morning hours on July 7 in Jasonville.
Courtesy photo

The Morin family of Jasonville lost their garage in a fire July 7. While they have expressed gratitude that no one was harmed and the house is undamaged, years of hard work went up in flames.

The garage held their Racing Shop.

The fire began half past midnight, and according to Kallie Rehmel, Safety Officer for the Wright Township Volunteer Fire Department (WTVF), said that Greene County dispatched WTVF and Jasonville Fire Department at the same time.

“Lewis Fire Department was called to assist with manpower because the firefighters fighting the fire needed rotated out because of the heat,” said Rehmel.

Jerri Morin revealed in a 3 a.m. Facebook post that the garage was a “total loss.”

“But we and the house are fine and that’s what matters,” Morin wrote. “The firefighters have done a great job. So thankful for them and their hard work.”

As of 4 p.m. the following Monday, the post has received 185 reactions and 141 comments; digital evidence of a community rallying around a family in a time of need.

“We’ve had so many reach-outs from the community. Big shout to our community: friends, family, firefighters, responders. I’ve been here my whole life. I’ve always felt lucky. July 7 I really felt it,” Morin said.

Twenty hours after dispatch for the fire, Remhel took to social media to further thank everyone who had helped in containing and extinguishing the fire, as well as other help given by the community. Greene County Ambulance Service Emergency 4 was on scene to monitor the responders for heat issues and provide drinks to hydrate them, resulting in two garbage bags worth of empty bottles, which ambulance personnel also helped to clean from the area after the fact. Jasonville Police Department also remained nearby to offer help as needed. Jasonville Fire Auxiliary and one of WTVF’s civilian members also assisted on the scene. Casey’s provided auxiliary and civilian responders alike with donuts. Rehmel mentioned that many of the responders were running low on sleep, fresh off their shifts for the day and called back to the Morin residence moments later to battle the fire for seven straight hours. The last unit did not clear the property until 7:30 a.m.

The department visited several times in the night to spray the ashes down, but the department and Jasonville were both called back to the scene at 6 a.m. because the fire had rekindled. After that, they brought in an excavator to tear down the remainder of the garage so it could not pose any more danger to the house. They put out “hot spots” Saturday afternoon and continue to check on the structure.

“Teamwork and persistence paid off and we were able to save the house which was extremely close to the garage,” Rehmel wrote. “Prayers go out to Steve, Jeri and Brandon Morin for the loss of their racing equipment as well as everything else. Thankful that they are all okay and that their animals were safe as well.”

WTVF met at the house again on Monday at 6 p.m. to continue cleaning up the aftermath of the garage fire.

“I will say that as hot as the fire was and as close to the house as the garage was, it is a miracle they did not lose their house,” Rehmel said.

Rehmel says the structure of the garage and the heavy fire load meant that the fire was constantly being buried and fed by more of the structure as it collapsed. The cause of the fire has yet to be determined.

“Because of the size of the structure, the extensive damage and the huge loss, We have notified the State Fire Marshall’s office to help us determine the cause,” said Rehmel. “I think at this moment the family’s biggest need is to help get Brandon back to racing,” A GoFundMe campaign called “Get Morin Racing Back on the Track” was created Saturday, and so far it has raised more than $1,000 of the $20,000 goal in two days.

John Stewart, who is involved in the Brandon Morin racing team’s sprint car operation, posted pictures of the firefighting efforts to social media the next day.

“Our only hope is that someone can help with a ride for Brandon for the remainder of the 2017 season,” Stewart wrote, “but that remains to be seen.”

Morin’s sprint car, the spare car, the car trailer as well as other tools and items were lost to the fire. Two trucks were also destroyed.

Saturday, Brad “BJ” Wallace said on Facebook that while the garage and its contents would be covered by insurance, the car and its engine most likely would not. Wallace added that anyone who contributes to the GoFundMe fund would have their name and business advertised somewhere on the car for one calendar year.

According to Morin, her husband Steve and son Brandon began building the racing team together 16 years ago.

“In those times there’s been tons of things and memories,” Morin said. “We’ve always been a great team. Me, ‘B’ and Steve. We will continue that with rebuilding what we all lost. It’ll be OK. We have great friends and family.”

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