Williston, ND – Former Uintah High School Teacher and Coach Eric Pye and Kathleen Warnberg were jolted awake Wednesday when their fifty foot fifth wheel exploded and left them staring into a sizzling hole in the upper bedroom that quickly engulfed their entire Williston, North Dakota residence, their personal belongings and sadly even their two precious cats.
“At about 1:30 am we were sound asleep; there was a huge explosion,” Kathy shudders, “It’s been so cold here, down to -30 degrees at night, so we’ve been putting a propane heater under the front of the 5th wheel.” She takes a deep breathe, “We ran out the door in our pajamas, the dogs ran out behind us but we had no time, we couldn’t find the cats.”
Pye & Warnberg are former residents of Vernal and still have family and friends in the Uintah Basin. Eric Pye taught Health and American History at Uintah High School. He also coached tennis, football, girl’s volleyball and boy’s basketball. Kathy Warnberg worked as a Dental Assistant for Dr. Jason Monfredi in Vernal, Utah.
According to Warnberg, “It took 25 minutes for the Volunteer Fire Department to arrive; we are renting three acres in a rural area. It’s been so cold, and the roads were treacherous, so it took some time for responders to get to us. By the time they arrived the fifth wheel was gone.” Warnberg elaborated that they were extremely fortunate that earlier evening high winds had died down. Fire fighters broke down side-walls on outbuildings hoping to save the structures and it worked. “The fire melted the side of our Dodge Ram pickup but the truck is still usable.”
About five years ago, like so many in Utah’s Uintah Basin, they decided to take a chance on the booming economy in North Dakota. Their growing business was the sale of manufactured homes for oil field man camps and private owners.
As we speak Kathy chokes up, “With wind-chill it’s -28 degrees today and Eric is outside sifting through the ashes looking for memorabilia and personal belongings that may have survived, you don’t realize what you have lost until it’s gone.”
I ask Kathy what the hardest part of this has been and what her greatest needs are, her response is humbling: “It’s hard to accept things from people; we have always been the givers. We can get through this. We have our work, we do our part and never expect anything back, but our kids are telling us we need to accept help if it’s offered.”
If you would like to help, Kathy says the easiest thing would be gift cards. In Williston they have access to Wal-Mart, Maurice’s, Penny’s, Sinclair Gas, Albertson’s Grocery and True Value. If you would like to send gift cards or make a donation to help them out, you can mail small items to:
Eric Pye & Kathleen Warnberg
P.O. Box 2573
Williston, ND 58801
A physical address for larger shipments is:
5792 128th Dr. NW
Epping, ND 58843
Eric Pye has two sons living in the Vernal area, one drives for UPS and the other works for Anadarko. Kathy’s daughter, Bree Pye posted this note on her Facebook page, “It would be much appreciated if anybody could help them out with warm jackets, beanies, insulated coveralls, socks, boots or anything at all. It has been nearly thirty below zero in Williston for the past week and they are in dire need of warm clothing.”