Red Knights help family after fire

December 24, 2003|EMILY BURTON

Two days before Christmas, Crystal and Michael Baker and their family stood in the cold rain outside the blackened shell of their burned home and surveyed the damage.

On Saturday, their rental home on High Street was severely damaged by fire despite the best efforts of 20 firefighters. On Tuesday, the Bakers were happy to see several firefighters return, but this time without the sirens.

Members of central Kentucky's newest firefighter association, the Red Knights Motorcycle Club, presented the Bakers a $125 Wal-Mart gift card to help stem their loss during the holidays. After Saturday's fire, the club took up a collection, mainly from their own pockets, to help a family in need.

"That's the fireman way to do it. Plus it's the holidays and we're a family-oriented group," said club Vice President Greg Crawford. "We wanted the kids to have a good Christmas like everybody else."


The Red Knights is an international motorcycle organization, formed in 1982, for firefighters concerned with motorcycle safety and firefighter fellowship. Kentucky's first chapter, comprised of firefighters from Danville, Boyle County, Burgin and Junction City, was granted its charter last week.

"This is the city of firsts, and we wanted the first chapter to be in Danville," said Crawford.

Crystal Baker said she was happy to have them in town. "People have just been great. Everybody has just jumped right in to help."

Her husband said the community had gone above the call of duty with donations and support. "I appreciate everything everybody has done," he said.

The Bakers, their two children and a relative have all been moved to a neighboring house. Both homes are owned by Phyllis Hurst.

"The kids will not even notice the difference. There's been so many people leave clothes and toys for them," said Crystal Baker.

Thanks to personal donations and help from the Red Cross, the Bakers are slowly piecing their home back together. Donations of bedding were still being unloaded as the Red Knights gathered around the new house. It is a stark reminder of the many necessities the Bakers lost in the blaze.

"The only things they left with were the clothes on their back," said Scotty Caldwell, president of the Red Knights.

Danielle McQueary, Crystal Baker's sister, expressed gratitude for the help. She called 911 from a neighbor's house on Saturday after waking up to the fire. As the Red Knights gathered on the lawn Tuesday, she smiled to see the firefighters again. "They're great," she said.

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