The mobile home fire that took the lives of five people in rural Sherrard, Illinois on March 27, 2013 shook the area.
Few were affected more than Wayne Viager, the father and husband of two of the victims.
“It just went by so quick,” Wayne says as he revisits the night. “Waking up to heavy smoke, can’t see nothing, and extreme heat.”
It was early on a Wednesday morning when Wayne Viager woke up to his house engulfed in smoke and flames. His wife, daughter, three of her friends and his two sons were inside.
“The only thing I came out of there with was pajama bottoms – my top was melted to me – and my boys,” Wayne says. “That’s the only thing I could get out of there that night. But the only thing I was worried about was getting everyone else out. I hate that.”
Wayne says although he made it out, he lost his other half that night.
“She wasn’t just my wife, she was my best friend,” he says about his wife, Anna, who died in that fire. “We did everything together. You’re just lost. Evenings are the worse, once it starts winding down, you have time to think.”
He says he will remember his wife, Anna, as a fighter who had recently beat breast cancer.
“We just got done with a six-month clean check up the day of the fire. She went all the way through that,” Wayne says.
Wayne says that fire is something he can’t stop thinking about, and that he often wonders why that day happened the way it did.
“I’d much rather been the one, and had them living. But, they claim everything happens for a reason. What reason? We will never know. I don’t know why we have to deal with stuff like this. I don’t know why anybody has to. I don’t think its right, but we aren’t the ones to decide that. There is a higher power to decide that for us.”
He says it is that understanding, and his boys, that keep him going every day to work to live and rebuild.
Wayne has started building a new home right next to where his mobile home once stood.