West Allis family of six displaced after fire, worried about safety during pandemic

NOW: West Allis family of six displaced after fire, worried about safety during pandemic

WEST ALLIS, Wis. (CBS 58) -- As most people in the community are staying indoors because of the coronavirus, a West Allis family has been forced out of theirs.

Fire damaged their apartment, and now they’re working to stay afloat.

The McConkey family was ready for social distancing, as health experts advise people to stay inside to help slow the spread of the coronavirus (COVID-19).

“We spent hundreds and hundreds of dollars just preparing because the girls, the teens, were going to be home for the next month or so," Erica McConkey said.

But a Tuesday morning fire at the Morgan Grove apartments in West Allis forced the McConkeys outside.

Erica and her husband, Mitchell, have four daughters ages 18, 16, three and two.

“I can’t tell you how many stores we went to for toilet paper. And then we focused on wipes for our daughter who’s still being potty trained," she said.

The McConkeys lived in a three-bedroom apartment on the third floor.

West Allis Fire told CBS 58 the flames started on the second floor, causing damage to both units.

No word yet on a cause and damage estimates.

“We lost everything and whatever did not catch on fire just has so much smoke damage it doesn’t matter," Mitchell McConkey said.

The family said Morgan Grove did try to help.

They gave them a place to stay for two nights, and also offered separate, two-bedroom apartments.

But the McConkeys believe splitting up now would have hurt their family much more.

“That just would’ve made everything a lot worse, I believe," he said. "Our three year old is constantly smelling the smoke and she’s like, ‘fire dad, fire.’”

The McConkeys say they’ve tried to look at other three-bedroom apartments.

But many places have turned them away from viewing them, because of coronavirus concerns.

Mitchell McConkey said he’s still working, but has taken time off to handle everything.

A family friend set up a GoFundMe for them.

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