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What A Relief

2/24/2004

Chalk another one up for the rodeo community.

Longtime PRCA announcer Steve Kenyon and his family are already back on their feet after their Oregon home burned down on a bone-chilling evening on Jan. 4

Kenyon; barrel racing wife, Tracy; and 18-year-old son, Phillip, all escaped without injury and with many keepsake items in hand including buckles, pictures, saddles and other rodeo memorabilia. Their horses and dog also survived, but their cat did not.

The Kenyons lost all of the basic essentials. They were renting the property in Adams, a tiny town located about 11 miles from Pendleton, Ore. The response to their devastating loss has been nothing short of amazing, said Kenyon, who started his PRCA announcing career in 1993.

"I don't know how somebody who goes through this without the support that we've had," Kenyon said. "We had Eddie Longfellow, the circuit secretary up here, and Mary Green, whose husband is a bulldogger up here, and a bunch of other people set up an account for us.

"We received clothes and furniture. We've gotten stuff from people in Texas that we've never met. I got a card the other day from a lady in New York."

Offers of shelter, food and other necessities have continued to pour in.

"We didn't have to worry to the extent that a lot of people would have to worry because of all the support of our friends," Kenyon said. "If I was to say thank you, it would be to all of those people for everything they did.

"For about a month every day, either because of an e-mail, or a letter, a package or a phone call, my wife and I would be standing there saying I just can't believe this, we are overwhelmed. I'm never ever going to be able to adequately say thank you to all the people who were there for us."

The tragedy occurred at 10:30 p.m. on one of the coldest nights — 18 degrees below zero — of the last five years in Oregon.

No official cause for the fire has been determined, but it appears to be an electrical short triggered by the frigid temperatures. The fire started in a shed behind the house. Keynon was asleep, while Tracy was watching television and Phillip was doing homework.

The son of the landlord, who lives next door, saw the smoke and raced over to alert the Kenyons to leave immediately.

"Everything was all frozen up and we probably could have put it out with a garden hose," Kenyon said. "Then the local volunteer fire department showed up and they had trouble rousing up people and trouble getting everything thawed out. It went from bad to worse."

An account at Sterling Savings Bank in Pendleton has been established to help the Kenyons rebuild their lives.

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