Raleigh family thankful for community support amid struggles to find new home after losing theirs in fire

Wake County News

RALEIGH, N.C. (WNCN) — After a fire destroyed a Raleigh home, friends and strangers stepped in to help. The family who lived there wants to rebuild in the neighborhood they love, but finding a place to live in the meantime isn’t easy.

​A doorbell camera showed the first sign of something wrong.

Dena and Tom Keenan, out for the afternoon, saw the video taken from their own front door.

“I think these are flames on the front porch,” Dena recalled telling her husband, “And he looks at it and he says, ‘Oh my God.’”

Their children weren’t home, but their dogs were.

As the Keenans rushed home, someone they didn’t even know tried to help. Security cameras show him breaking a glass door, trying to give the dogs, who were barking frantically, a path out of the burning home.

“It’s touching,” said Dena.

Although the man couldn’t get them out, firefighters, searching the house for anyone inside, rescued the dogs.

The Keenans were able to thank the firefighters and to find and connect with the man who tried to rescue their dogs after they posted the security video online. “He was just so happy that the dogs were alive,” recalled Dena.

Nothing from the house could be saved. The Keenans lost everything from photo albums to wedding gowns, but they are grateful for so much support from friends, strangers, and family.

“Thank God for my cousin who invited us to his home for a week, or two weeks, now three or four weeks,” said Dena. “We’re still there and trying to find a house to rent and it’s impossible.”

They hope to find a house big enough for four.

“A four-bedroom home, but we quickly realized you can’t even get a home so we will take a three-bedroom down to a two-bedroom,” said Tom.

Even that isn’t easy in the current market. “There will be 1 to 50 applicants for one rental home,” explained Tom, adding, “If they don’t want pets, they don’t have to have them; they can pick the longest lease.”

“We’ve been declined almost every single time,” he added.

If they can’t find a house, they say the owner of nearby apartments generously offered to move them to the top of the waiting list, so they can have an apartment in July.

Despite all they lost and the frustrating search for a place to stay, the Keenans are confident something will work out. They’re thankful that wherever they end up, they’ll be together.

“We have each other,” said Tom.

Dena agreed. “In the end, as long as we have each other, that’s all that matters.”

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