With no home insurance to cover his friend's fire losses, the Internet proves a fundraising helper

Perhaps the worst thing that can happen to a homeowner is to have their house damaged or destroyed by fire.

That situation is made even worse when the homeowner doesn’t have insurance to cover losses should there be a fire or other disaster.

Dover’s Melissa “Mosa” Davis is one of those homeowners. A March 30 blaze in a basement bedroom of her MacArthur Drive home caused thousands of dollars in damage, and Davis has no way to pay for repairs necessary to make her home habitable again.

As of press time, Dover City Fire Marshal Dave Truax said investigators have yet to determine the cause of the fire. He estimated damage at $5,000 just to clean up the area, plus up to $10,000 more to return the basement to its finished state.

Enter Gavin Lake, a friend living in Knoxville, Tenn., who heard about Davis’ problem and has launched an Internet fundraising campaign to help.

“We met through some friends years ago,” Lake said in a telephone interview. “We hit it off and have been good friends ever since.”

Davis, 26, bought the home in September 2011 at a foreclosure sale, using a small family inheritance she had received.

“I bought it as a starter home,” she said. “It wasn’t in perfect, move-in condition. It was a fixer-upper for sure, but I got an incredible deal on it.”

Because she paid for the house outright, Davis was not required to carry insurance; unable to buy coverage, she was forced to go without and hope for the best.

It was a fateful choice.

On March 30, Davis, who had fallen asleep in the living room while watching television, awoke at approximately 4:30 a.m. to the reality of smoke filling her home.

“I was choking on it, actually,” she said. “I ran outside and called 911.”

Dover Fire Department crews arrived quickly and kept the blaze confined to the basement bedroom where a friend was staying.

From the outside, damage to the MacArthur Drive home does not appear to be severe. There are smoke stains on the vinyl siding above the basement window where the fire occurred, and a large piece of plywood covers the front picture window, knocked out by firefighters.

Inside the home is another story, however.

Much of what Davis owns now is stacked in piles throughout the living and dining rooms. Davis, who makes a living buying and selling antiques and vintage clothing online, said much of her stock probably will be thrown out due of smoke or water damage.

Lake said he came up with the idea of raising money after hearing about Indiegogo, a website devoted, among other things, to charities and community-related projects.

“Mosa has a reputation of going out of her way to help others, and the idea of people coming together to try to help was a bit overwhelming for her,” he said.

“It takes a little bit of brass to ask others for money, but I knew it was something we needed to do just because of the kind of person she is.”

Davis admits she was more than just a little astounded when Lake announced his project.

“I get emotional just talking about it,” she said. “I’m so grateful to have such good friends who are so supporting. It’s so humbling.

“People use the word ‘blessed’ a lot, and that’s how I feel,” she said.

As of April 7, Lake’s Indiegogo campaign (https://www.indiegogo.com/projects/help-mosa-rebuild) has raised $990 of its $15,000 target. Lake would be happy even if the project doesn’t hit its goal because whatever is raised will help his friend.

“If we just reach $5,000, I’d be elated,” he said. A contributions jar also has been set up at Tough Luck Tattoo at 155 N. Dupont Highway.

For now, Davis is staying at a Dover hotel, and has friends and family helping clean up the mess in her home. She also has a contractor planning the work that must be done for the city of Dover to allow her to again live in her home.

She’s looking to the future, not to the past, she said.

“It doesn’t really do a lot of good being negative,” Davis said. “You don’t get a lot accomplished that way.”