One Year Anniversary of Kozy Fire Approaching Soon

By KBJR News 1

November 11, 2011 Updated Nov 11, 2011 at 8:13 PM CDT

Duluth, MN (Northlands NewsCenter)
-- It's been almost a year since fire destroyed the Kozy Bar and Apartments in Downtown Duluth.

The blaze displaced dozens of Duluth residents but some were given a second chance to re-build their lives.

It was a traumatic experience for those left homeless by the Kozy fire on November 15th, 2010 but a lucky few were given a second chance through six months of free rent from Shiprock Management in Duluth.

One of those tenants was Tenica Thomas.

"I was happy to get her out of there. It was not a place to be living with cancer. It's loud and you have people doing there crazy stuff"

Tenica Thomas is talking about her former home, the Kozy, a building where she and her mother lived before the fire destroyed their home.

She was one of sixty people who lost their homes in that fire of unknown origin.

"It was a big fire, and it was really involved. There were people that didn't want to get out of their apartment; they didn't want to leave the building"

But Thomas wasn't one of those.

Her goal was to get her mother, who had gallbladder cancer, out of the Kozy before she died.

"She was just in tears and I was just sitting there trying to think what are we going to do"

When Tenica heard about a Duluth housing company willing to give displaced victims free rent, she got her hopes up.

And then the call came.

"We got the phone call about ten minutes after we were talking about it and they told her, "Hey do you want to come pick up the keys," and she started bawling"

But the happiness was short lived. Thomas's mother died of cancer four months after the fire.

"She was fun, outgoing, she was like my best friend"

Thomas says despite her cancer it was her mother who provided the strength and positive attitude to help Tenica pick up, and move on.

After six months of free rent Thomas decided to stay at the home that Shiprock provided and pay rent.

Duluth Fire officials say generally when a structure suffers the significant damage that the Kozy did, it's more appropriate to tear it down and start over.

Written for the web by: Zach Vavricka