December 15, 2016
A week ago, Harley Moore ran to the upstairs of his rural Rippey home to change out of his race car pajamas.
His mother Amber was feeding Harley’s 2-month-old baby brother that morning when black smoke rose out of the heat register.
She yelled up to Harley to come down, then instinctively took the baby outside, giving him to a cousin who also lived at the home.
Amber ran back in, only to find the stairwell engulfed in flames.
The stairs were gone.
“It was so fast,” she said.
Her husband Tony was at work.
Amber found a ladder, leaned it against the house, scurried up and broke out a window. But that’s when flames started rolling out another window below the ladder and she had to escape.
There was no escape for Harley.
The 911 call went out about 8:22 a.m. Dec. 8.
Rescue units from Perry, Rippey, Grand Junction and Jefferson soon arrived to find the house completely swallowed by fire.
The home, built in the 1800s, was where Tony, now 30, grew up and had been in his family for more than a half-century.
A BRIGHT YOUNG BOY
Harley had wanted nothing more than to go to school this year like his big brother, Zane, who is 10.
A bright boy who loved books and whose 4-year-old mind was full of surprises, Harley could rattle off all 150 Pokemon monsters with as much ease as his ABCs.
But because of his October birthdate, Harley was deemed too young for preschool this fall.
“If he’d been in preschool ...” Tony said Monday, his voice trailing off. “I keep hoping someone will hit me, and I’ll wake up from a nightmare.”
Investigators still don’t know what caused the fire, and Jack Williams, chief deputy of the Greene County Sheriff’s Office, said Monday he wasn’t sure the cause will ever be determined, but that it wasn’t likely arson.
There’s little left to sift through where the two-story house once stood at 2488 337th St., located in the far southeastern corner of Greene County.
It’s believed the fire started in the basement.
“Anything with an engine, he loved it,” Amber said of Harley.
He came by his name honestly.
“That was Harley on my Harley,” Tony said, showing a photo of a little boy atop a steel hog. “He loved that damn thing. Usually, he was up over the tank trying to reach the handlebars.”
A 2005 graduate of East Greene High School, Tony worked at the Harley-Davidson dealership in Ames, and now works as a service adviser at Moffitt’s Ford in Boone.
The Moores remember having to keep their car doors locked, or else they’d find Harley inside, behind the wheel, making engine noises.
“He had a passion for cars just like I do,” Tony said.
Harley could tell a Honda from a Toyota, and loved the “Little Blue Truck” series of books.
“We literally had hundreds of Hot Wheels,” said Amber, who grew up in Boone.
‘CHRISTMAS MUST GO ON’
The outpouring of community support for the grieving family started almost as fast as the fire.
“It’s been somewhat overwhelming,” Tony said of the generosity.
They’ve been staying with his mom in Paton.
An account set up by a cousin on the crowdfunding site GoFundMe hopes to raise $9,000 to help the Moores pay for their son’s funeral and to begin rebuilding.
And they’re vowing to rebuild on the exact same spot.
“I want to be where he was,” Amber said.
They also insist that Christmas must go on for anyone saddened by their tragedy.
It’s what Harley would have wanted.
“This was Harley’s favorite time of year,” Tony said, remembering Harley’s favorite Christmas song, “The Little Drummer Boy.”
It’s fitting, then, that the only belongings not destroyed in the fire were the family’s Christmas presents. They were still in the trunk of Tony’s car.
Harley’s presents, they said, will be donated to Toys for Tots.