Fire leaves family of heroes without home, Bozeman community responds

The Anderson family stands outside of their home which was lost during a Sunday evening fire on May 23.

BOZEMAN, Mont. - A devastating fire left the Anderson family without a home and most of their belongings, but this time it’s the community helping them out rather than the other way around.

Michael Anderson is a deputy with the Gallatin County Sheriff's Office and a drone operator for the search and rescue team while his wife Christi is a special needs teacher at Longfellow Elementary School who are usually the ones helping out those most in need.

The tables were turned however on the night of May 23 while getting ready for their busy work weeks and making dinner for their son Reese and daughter Lily who's 6th birthday was fast approaching on May 27.

“It was a normal Sunday evening we were getting our dinner ready, the kids were upstairs playing and everybody was upstairs in the kitchen in the living room and all of the sudden we just heard an explosion,” Michael said.

The cause of the fire is still under investigation but it's one that changed everything for a family of heroes.

“It's affected everything honestly all my gear was burnt up, all my uniforms,” Michael said.

As for Christi, she has yet to be back in the classroom since the fire, but Longfellow Executive Secretary Karen Hancock said everyone at the school came together to fill-in and help out in any way possible. 

“Christi is a powerhouse at Longfellow, she’s a leader, she has a challenging job and is able to build powerful relationships with students and their families during sometimes what can be challenging times,” Hancock said.

In less than a week a GoFundMe was set up and piles of clothing donations have poured in to help try and replace what was lost in the fire.

“It’s humbling to be on this side of it and to see that we really do have a great community," Michael said. "I didn't have to worry about what was coming next, there were people there right away that helped with the initial things to having a bag of clothes waiting for us at the house."

Both Christi and Michael said they can't thank everyone enough from neighbors, all of the first responders, the Longfellow and Bozeman Schools community, the Thrive parent liaison Melissa Steinhauer, and the Gallatin County Sheriff's Office.

"Just the love, there’s a lot of love and that’s pretty humbling,” Christi said.

If you are interested, you can donate to the family through the GoFundMe page here, or donate at any Stockman Bank location to a secure bank account. Checks should be made payable to Michael and Christi Anderson for the ‘Michael and Christi Anderson, Anderson Family Fire Fund.’

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