COLLINSVILLE, Ill. — It cost them everything. From their home to precious memories and now their special day.
“It’s over with. It’s done. There’s nothing you can do now,” Taylor Burnham said.
It’s been nearly five years since Taylor Burnham and Christopher Taake first met at a bar in St. Louis.
“We connect really well. We have a lot of similar interests,” she said.
The two immediately hit it off and months later the couple decided to take the next step in their relationship by getting engaged.
“We’ve been able to balance each other really well,” she said.
Their wedding was planned for May, but after tragedy struck over the weekend those wedding plans were put on hold indefinitely.
“That was a definitely lot of tears were shed because of that,” she said.
Saturday, the couple was on their way home with their dog from wedding planning in Indiana when Burnham got a heartbreaking phone call from her landlord.
“He said one the neighbor’s patios caught on fire,” she said.
The Collinsville fire department responded to the 8-family apartment building on Sandridge Drive. After firefighters arrived at the scene, they could see smoke coming from the back of the building. Crews entered Apt 127 to find the fire was spreading in the floor joists to other areas of the building. Due to high winds, the flames from a tipped-over barbecue grill quickly spread to at least 4 neighboring units, including the couple’s home.
“It’s just insane on the windiest day that that just it happened,” Burnham told 5 On Your Side.
Burnham said the fire ruined everything, including two of her wedding dresses. It even cost her her life-saving medicine.
“We were able to get my insulin, but we found out we can’t use it,” she said. “Even though we got it, we still can’t use it because of the smoke damage and stuff like that.”
The couple told 5 On Your Side while the fire may have changed their plans for their big day, they won’t let that affect their daily lives.
“We’re going to love each other no matter what whether we’re married or not just yet,” Burnham said.
The Red Cross and Collinsville Emergency Management Agency helped to find shelter for the families that were affected by the fire. Mutual aid was requested from Troy, Edwardsville, Maryville, Fairview Heights, Glen Carbon, Caseyville, State Park and Granite City fire departments.
Burnham and Taake are staying with family members until they can get back on their feet.
A Go Fund Me page has been set up to help them.
“It’s just amazing that just the outreach even from strangers is insane,” she said.
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