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Family ‘humbled’ by community generosity after losing belongings in fire


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    HENDERSONVILLE, North Carolina (WLOS ) — Christmas morning before the sun came up the Bonnemas woke to flames shooting up out part of the Echo Mountain Inn, located up above Hendersonville.

There was snow and ice on the road, yet the inn’s owner said there was still a quick response by fire crews. But there was no saving the Walnut Wellness Center.

“It didn’t take but a couple hours for the building to be completely destroyed,” said Travis Bonnema, who owns the Echo Mountain Inn and Restaurant with his wife, Becky, and his parents.

Four generations live onsite at the inn and keep it running smoothly.

Bonnema is grateful flames did not make it to the inn and restaurant, which are housed in two other structures that he and his family managed to keep open for the holiday weekend.

But so much was lost in what had been a spa downstairs, with a family day-living area upstairs.

Their office and homeschooling space, computers and supplies — much of it replaceable.

But also, sadly, the one treasured thing that is irreplaceable and cannot be recovered.

“Before moving here we had the conversation, if we ever have a fire what are we going to grab first on our way out?” Bonnema said. “That’s the hard drive that has everything on it — and that was in this building.”

Bonnema said in the few days since the fire, people in the community — many strangers — have been reaching out.

Some have even offered to stay at the inn, eat in the restaurant, in an effort to try to help a neighbor keep his business going.

“It’s really shown what happens when people come together. I know everybody’s going through different hard experiences; this is a tough year,” Bonnema said. “So to be able to receive that kind of support is pretty humbling.”

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