Garden City fire marshal rescues child's favorite stuffed tiger after apartment fire

Posted at 11:54 AM, Mar 16, 2021
and last updated 2021-03-16 11:54:18-04

(WXYZ) — A 7-year-old girl from Garden City has her best friend back thanks to the kindness of the Garden City Fire Department.

The girl’s grandfather, Daryl Aspery, said Khaleesi Champion was spending time at his house while her mother was working in their place at Bentley Square Apartments on March 10 when a fire started in the complex.

Photo courtesy Daryl Aspery

Daryl’s daughter was able to make it out OK, but officials say the structural integrity of the building was comprised and it wasn’t safe for residents to go back in after the fire to retrieve belongings.

Left behind was Khaleesi’s favorite stuffed tiger named Tigee.

Photo courtesy Daryl Aspery

“She slept with it every night for most of her whole life,” said Aspery. “She’s an only child, so she has no one to play with. Me, her and Tigee would play games together.”

Garden City Fire Department Fire Marshal Brian Finneren said he went to the apartment complex a few days later to document the aftermath when a few residents called about getting some of the contents of their apartments. But one request stood out: Khaleesi’s mother making a plea for Tigee.

“Hers in particular, she knew exactly where the item was and the importance of it to the child,” said Finneren. “I made it a point to get that out for her.”

Finneren added, “I have two children, so I completely understand the significance of it,” he said. “It’s difficult for a child to understand, it’s a lot easier to reason with an adult why they can’t get to their things, so it struck a nerve for me.”

After a few vinegar baths and some time out in the sunshine, Tigee was back to normal and once again cherished by his 7-year-old companion.

"Tigee is my favorite stuffed animal in the whole world. It made me happy to get him back,” said Champion.

Photo courtesy Daryl Aspery

While most items could not be retrieved, Finneren said he was glad to be able to provide some comfort to the family during this difficult time.

“I’m glad we could do something to lessen the impact for them,” said Finneren.