Daily Interlake: Whitefish soldier and his family rebuilding lives after fire

Nearly two months after a fire destroyed their Whitefish area home, Ryan and Crystal Pengelly are slowly getting their lives back on track.

The Pengellys, as well as Ryan’s mother Bonnie, who was living with them, lost everything when they fled their burning single-wide trailer just before 2 a.m. on Nov. 7. The trio managed to escape with their dog and two newborn kittens in just pajamas and bare feet.

The fire claimed everything from their clothing to Ryan’s numerous military medals and citations. He had only just returned a month earlier after serving seven years in the military, including two tours in Afghanistan and one in Iraq. Ryan was still recovering from a brain injury sustained in Iraq when he survived a bomb blast.

John Delaney, a retired military man himself, has also made himself available to the family since the fire and helped out whenever he could. The local VFW put on a spaghetti dinner for the Pengellys, donating all the proceeds to the family.

The office of Montana Sen. Jon Tester is also lending a hand, working on getting Ryan’s lost military medals and awards replaced.

“Everybody just gave from their heart as much as they could,” Bonnie said. “I appreciate it very much. Without them there wouldn’t have been any Christmas or a Thanksgiving.”

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