Community supporting family after home damaged by fire as grandmother fights cancer


INDIANAPOLIS — An Indianapolis family is struggling right now. On Sept. 9, a fire started in the upstairs of the Duffer family home and the damage is severe. At the same time, Ruth Duffer, the grandmother, is dealing with colon cancer.

“‘Amanda, there’s smoke, there’s lots of smoke,’” said Amanda Duffer, she said this is what she heard when her sister called around Noon on Thursday, Sept. 9. The family home on the near East side of Indianapolis was on fire.

Duffer said she rushed home from work and found the upstairs on fire and firefighters working to put it out.

“My mom was in tears, everyone was in panic mode,” she said.

In the days since, Amanda said friends, neighbors, and coworkers have come together to support the family. Amanda, her sister, her two kids, and Ruth all lived together in the house, now they’re finding temporary homes.

The adults are in hotels and the two daughters are living with Amanda’s brother so the bus can still pick them up for school.

Amanda said it’s been difficult having the family apart, especially on Ruth.

“I know she wants us all together, but this is what we can do for now that’s kind of why we want the house redone,” Amanda said. “That’s my mom’s thing, she wants the family back together and I think it’s hurting her more than she’s letting on.”

Ruth is also dealing with stage 3 colon cancer.

“I just want to go home, I just want to go home,” Ruth said. “I don’t know if I’m going to live two weeks, a month, I don’t know. You know, cancer’s a gamble but I just want to go home.”

For Ruth, the home has been her home for most of her life, and her family has lived in it since it was built in 1922.

The plan, now, is to rebuild and remodel what is left of the home. Amanda said the upstairs is the hardest hit. They’ll need to do the most work up there, but the downstairs ceilings also have a lot of water damage.

“We still need a lot of work, there’s been a lot of damage done,” said Ruth.

Amanda said the road ahead will be difficult. The family doesn’t have homeowner’s insurance.

The family has now started a GoFundMe to get all the help they can get. Already, Amanda said the family has gotten a lot of support and they are so grateful.

“Thank you, thank you, thank you,” she said. “It’s been a blessing.”

Amanda said any way people can help, they’ll be grateful.

For Ruth, she’s hoping and praying to be back in her home by Christmas.

“That’d be a nice Christmas present,” Ruth said.

Amanda said firefighters on the scene told her they believe the cause was electrical. A spokesperson for the Indianapolis Fire Department said the current report said the cause is undetermined.

If you would like to help the family, you can donate to their GoFundMe. Amanda said all the money will go to helping keep a roof over their heads, food on the table, and rebuild their home.

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