By Ryan Gueningsman
LORETTO, MN They moved to Loretto because of its small-town feel, and turned their downtown Loretto apartment into a home.
Though they have only been Loretto residents for about four months, Barbie Burns and husband, Majid “Magic” Nasiruddin are feeling and appreciating that small town now more than ever after their home was destroyed by fire Dec. 15.
“People have been so, so nice,” Burns said the day after the fire displaced them and eight other people. “We went to the Detour (bar and restaurant) the day of the fire and complete strangers bought us food.”
Nasiruddin said he met a Loretto woman the day of the fire who said she would be willing to open her home to the young couple for several days until they could get things figured out.
Another local man offered clothing and exchanged phone numbers with him, Nasiruddin said.
“Complete strangers have been helping out everyone has been great,” Burns said.
The couple moved to Loretto Sept. 15, and truly turned their apartment into a home, Nasiruddin said.
“It was really cute,” Burns said. “We painted it.”
Burns is originally from a small town in Canada, and Nasiruddin from a large city in India. The two met through a friend in downtown Minneapolis.
“My family is all from Wayzata and I’ve been coming back and forth most of my life,” Burns said. “We just decided to find an apartment. My husband found it online and it happened to be Loretto, Minnesota.”
Burns works as a live-in personal care attendant, and Nasiruddin is training to be general manager at Taco Bell in Minneapolis.
Even though both have a commute for their jobs, they are hoping to remain in Loretto. As of Thursday, they had checked out several places in Loretto and hope to find a place soon.
On the day of the fire, Burns was thankful she and her husband were safe, but was worried about their two feline friends 8-year-old Blackie and 5-year-old Woofie, who were believed to still be in the burning building several hours after the fire had started.
Both cats may have used up one of their nine lives, but both were found alive. Woofie was located by a firefighter and carried out of the building. His companion, Blackie, frantically jumped out of a window and had to be corralled by several firefighters and Burns before being brought to safety.
“I’ve had Blackie since 2001. He’s a mama’s boy. Woofie is a daddy’s boy. Woofie is the one the fireman carried out,” Burns said. “He came out peacefully. Unfortunately, Blackie jumped out the window and the firemen and I were chasing him around.
As soon as Burns reunited with Blackie, she took the cats to the Corcoran Pet Care Center. After initial treatment, Burns and Nasiruddin decided to take the cats to the University of Minnesota.
“We decided to bring them to the University of Minnesota because of the smoke inhalation,” Burns said Wednesday. “The cats were in an intensive care unit at the U for oxygen. They took them off that and they’re going to monitor them. They’re going to spend one more night there.”
Burns said both cats are expected to recover from the traumatic experience.
“They (veterinarians) said they’ve been pretty good Blackie is more active, a little happier, and Woofie is bouncing around like a yo-yo,” Burns said.
Burns said cats can get “stressed out” easily, especially with a factor like a quick change in environment.