Fayette family seeks help after house fire
For Ronnie and Brenda Mask it is a difficult matter of starting over. The Fayette County couple had been slowly making a number of renovations to an old house in Meriwether County they bought nearly 10 years ago until the house burned to the ground in early October. Without insurance until the electric meter could be turned on, the couple have begun the slow process of starting to rebuild from scratch on what was to be their new home.
Brenda, 56, is a longtime school bus driver for the Fayette County School System and is also known as the “Cake Lady” for the many custom cakes she has baked for weddings and other events over the years. Ronnie, 59, who suffered a stroke in January and is currently recovering and unemployed, has been a lifelong Fayette resident and for years ran the old Pilot Oil Company business in Fayetteville.
The idea behind their relocation to Meriwether County was to find a piece of property to help raise their grandchildren once their own children had graduated Fayette County schools.
“Fayette County isn’t county any more,” Brenda, who moved to Fayette County at age 17, said last week. “Ronnie wanted to help raise the grandkids in the country, to teach them things his dad and granddad taught him.”
So the couple in 2001 bought the property in Meriwether between Woodbury and Warm Springs complete with an 1,100 square-foot circa 1926 house. The plan was to renovate it and expand the house in some areas.
“We were slowly trying to renovate it without borrowing any money,” Brenda said, adding that over time, and doing the labor themselves, the two added a new roof, added a kitchen and dining room, cabinets, a second bedroom and a porch across the front to the house.
Brenda, and Ronnie, did nearly all the renovation and expansion work on their own. The process was slow, Brenda said, since they did not want to borrow money for the large project.
But their efforts came to a halt on Oct. 3 when a fire turned their home into a pile of ashes. The house was a complete loss, Ronnie said, adding that officials in Meriwether said they suspected arson.
“For this to happen, we didn’t do anything for anyone to want to hurt us,” Brenda said.
The problem for the couple rests with the lack of insurance on the house. Brenda said the insurance company would not insure it until the old 60 amp service had been upgraded to 220 amps and the power turned on. Brenda said the house had been re-wired but the new meter had not been installed.
People around the Fayette community began to hear about the fire and the lack of insurance and started calling about donating items needed to re-build the house. The couple said the efforts of friends and acquaintances is humbling, with Brenda emphasizing that while very appreciative the couple is not looking for a handout.
Brenda said that, nonetheless, donations to help re-build the house have begun to come in. The couple so far has commitments for doors,windows, molding, hardwood floors, cabinets and concrete block. And a needed supply of wallboard is coming at cost, Brenda added.
An account has been set up at the Bank of North Georgia for those interested in contributing to the re-build project. The account is listed as “Brenda and Ronnie Mask House Funds Donations.” Contributions can also be mailed to The Bank of North Georgia, 2603 Ga. Highway 54 West, Peachtree City, GA 30269.