WDAY: The News Leader

Published October 19, 2010, 09:32 AM

Residents displaced by apartment fire try to get their lives back to normal

Fargo, ND (WDAY TV) - 8-days after a 5-alarm apartment fire that left 150 people without a home, one man is trying to get is life back to semi-normal. Pat Michels (MICHAELS) says he's getting more support than he ever thought. His isn't the first life altering experience for the Fargo man.

This 58-year-old glass estimator was one many displaced after last week's massive apartment fire. But thanks to a childhood friend, he has part of a new home.

"Tuesday morning he calls up, says the lower half is yours."

Two good-sized bedrooms, a bathroom, and living room; all to put almost nothing.

"This and I got a futon frame downstairs, that's it."

Other odds and ends in the spare room: a picture of his son, dishes, bills and a Bible.

Probably one of the most important things he was able to salvage was his motorcycle. He keeps it as his son's apartment. He bought it three years ago after his heart stopped and almost wasn't able to be revived.

"I take those pills everyday. When I start feeling down about this, I think back to that and think just how lucky I am to, that I had an apartment to burn out because I shouldn't be here."

Still, the frightening images from that day are ever present.

PAT: "This fire comes back at ya! You know, you see things! You see a couch or you see whatever you lost."

Even after so many sleepless nights, slowly, this soft-spoken glass expert has gotten back to turning blueprints. Something he finds gives him a sense of stability amidst the haze.

MSUM is going great lengths to help 15 university students displaced. MSUM's Vice President of Student Affairs, and two other V-P's each "adopted" 5 students, to help them with anything they need.

The school provided living at residence halls, replaced any textbooks that were lost and the financial aid office re-worked their financing to get more grants and loans. MSUM officials say this is the least they can do for their students.

"I think that's just part of who we are. The students that were in a crisis situation, that was totally unexpected that they needed help."

There's also an account set up at Affinity Plus Credit Union in Memorial Union on MSUM's campus. You can drop off any donations there for victims.