HELENA — Chuck Thennis lost his home and his beloved dog Cinnamon when a fire broke out in his trailer on February 20, 2023. When Thennis arrived home, he opened his door and was met with a wall of flames.
When he found out Cinnamon was still in the trailer, he tried to rescue her, but the smoke and heat from the flames were too strong.
"Got home about a little afternoon and went up and opened the front door to the house to the camper and the cold air rushed in and a fireball came back to my face," said Thennis.
Thennis sustained burns to his face and upper body and was forced outside the trailer, and he's still recovering.
"Second and third-degree burns. They were worried I was going to lose the ear. Now, they're not as worried about that. I still have a few more doctor's appointments ahead of me so far," said Thennis.
When Ashley Drain, Thennis' general manager at Comfort Suites, heard the news, she and assistant manager Elina Thiele started a GoFundMe asking members of the community to support Thennis in his recovery.
Thennis has dressed as Santa during the holiday season for many years in Helena, and his friends and co-workers wanted there to be a way the community could help the man who has spread so much joy over the years.
"We tried to get it out as quickly and fast as possible to help chuck out. He been a long-time employee and we care about our employees," said Thiele.
Companies in the Helena area are also helping Thennis in his time of need.
"Well, you know, housing's a factor. So I'm looking at that and, you know, working with the Good Samaritan and Red Cross at the beginning when the day after it happened, Red Cross reached out right away so that I had a lot of clothes donated already," said Thennis.
And with everything that's happened, Thennis is thankful for everyone who's helped him so far.
"I'm really thankful. You know, we have a very generous and very kind community, and that's important," said Thennis.
If you would like to donate, click here to visit the GoFundMe page.
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