NAPLES, Fla. A wildfire took the LeBuff family’s home and everything inside it. But it didn’t take away their community.
Now that community is rallying to replace a house that was one of four destroyed in a fire that burned 7,230 acres in and around the Picayune Strand State Forest. The home, built in 1970, was the first built on the street, which became known as LeBuff Road in honor of that distinction.
“They’re just family to us, me and my family,” friend Tom Franks said, “and we just had to reach out and take care of them.”
Franks owns a Naples-based building company called Inspired Woodworking and is using his connections to get a new house built for the LeBuffs.
“We’re overseeing some of the project, doing some of the work, coordinating a lot of stuff, helping out with the permitting aspect, getting Collier County whatever we need to do to move things along and move [them] back in there as fast as they can,” Franks said.
Scott Marcotte Construction, another Naples contractor, is also pitching in. That company is lining up suppliers who are donating labor and materials.
They’re not alone among those who’ve asked what they can do to help. Several have organized fundraisers to help pay for the family’s immediate needs.
“We’ve heard from some people really we’ve known all our lives and haven’t seen in 40 years, you know,” LeBuff said. “It’s been amazing. really amazing.”
The home was uninsured because insurance companies told the family it was too old, LeBuff said.
“We knew coming out that it was gone, so there’s no sense in dwelling on that,” he said. “The memories are still here. That’s the main thing.”