‘It’s not real:’ St. Cloud family grateful for new home 1 year after house fire

Handicap accessible home built for family’s needs

Family moves into new home after house fire

ST. CLOUD, Fla. – A St. Cloud family is excited to move into their new handicap accessible home more than a year after their previous home was destroyed during a house fire.

Gail Foster stood on the corner of Alabama Avenue and 9th Street Saturday morning with her special needs children she adopted by her side. She watched as a St. Cloud firetruck and ambulance pulled away, revealing her new home.

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“Just above and beyond,” Foster said.

Foster’s previous home once stood at that same corner, but it went up in flames in February 2020.

“I remember getting the call,” she said.

St. Cloud Assistant Fire Chief Chad Peterson remembers responding to the Foster’s special needs home early that morning.

“I’ll never forget that day,” Peterson said.

When Peterson and his crew arrived to the house, it was fully engulfed in flames. He said there was smoke all the way down to the floor.

Eleven people were evacuated. Peterson said he was happy to return to the house 16 months later to see Foster and her family get the key to their new home.

“We don’t get that many heartwarming days to go from low of lows to high of highs and it’s really, really nice to see the community outreach and support,” Peterson said.

Snow Construction of St. Cloud helped build the home for Foster and her children. It is handicap accessible with a medical wing.

“The wider hallways and the doors and shower, the kids are going to be able to get around more and spend more time out with the family and not in their beds,” Foster said.

Her son, Richard Foster, said he is grateful for the community’s support.

“From the moment the fire occurred, the community’s support, total strangers, community, churches, fire department family, everybody has helped us get through that hurdle and helped us over the time span get us through,” Richard Foster said.

Foster said she and her family can’t wait to make memories in their new home.

“It’s not real. It’s going to take a little bit of time to be for real,” she said.

Richard Foster said the cause of the fire was ruled undetermined.