Friends remember single mom killed in Fairview fire
Amy Miller met many people through the various jobs she worked as a single mother. Every place she went, every person she met, she left them with a lasting impression of a single mother doing what she had to do to make ends meet.
"She worked hard, she was a good server," said Jessica Olsen, Miller's former co-worker at Midnight Sun Brewing Company. "She's very well-known around town too. She worked at Humpy's with another good friend of mine. She worked in sales, she did what she had to do for her kids."
Miller and her two children, Isaiah and Lily, died early Friday morning when their East 17th Avenue condo was destroyed by a fast-moving fire. Isaiah was in kindergarten at Fairview Elementary School, where grief counselors were on hand this week for students and staff.
Jessica remembers working with Amy and becoming friends four years ago. Both of them were pregnant at the time, and it was Amy who help Jessica get through some of the most difficult times a mother goes through.
"She was very supportive -- very supportive of mothers and just the struggle that it is to be a working mom with little kids," Olsen said. "It's a lot of work to be a single mom, a working mom and to have kids that close in age. She was very real about how hard it is but also how rewarding and how wonderful it is to be a mother. She loved her kids, just loved them fiercely."
Amy worked as a barista at Midnight Sun for a few years and became close to a lot of the people she worked with.
"She's a joy," said Midnight Sun Loft manager Jamie Schmitt. "She lit up the room and has this presence about her when she would walk in that was pure elegance and she always, always had a smile on her face."
"We all talked on Facebook and social media about mom stuff," Olsen said. "We shared stories and tidbits about of kids and our struggles. We all reached out for advice and she was wonderful at that."
Word of Friday's fire was devastating for Amy's colleagues.
"When you experience something like that, where there is two small children involved, it breaks your heart," Schmitt said. "Way more immensely than you can ever imagine. For a lot of us who work here it hit home pretty good."
Barb Miller, Midnight Sun's co-founder and vice president, felt immediately that something had to be done.
"The night of the fire I also had a fire in my home," Miller said. "I have this old GE fan that I use for white noise that I've had for six years. I started getting hot, smoking and turning red. My fire alarm went off at 2:30 a.m. and if I hadn't heard that, I don't know if I'd be here today. The same morning about the same time. Can you believe that? I took that as a sign that I needed to do something."
Miller and Midnight Sun are working with the Red Cross of Alaska and the Anchorage Fire Department to spread awareness about fire safety.
"We want to do something with kids," Miller said. "We want to help communities and teach kids about smoke alarms. Teach them what the beeping sounds mean, how to check the batteries and to ask their parents where the smoke alarms are located. We also want them to know how to get out if a fire breaks out. We don't want to see this happen again."
The fire is still under investigation and it is not known what impact, if any, smoke alarms may have had in Amy Miller's home. Family and friends have planned a candlelight vigil for Amy, Isaiah and Lily on Thursday night at Fairview Elementary from 7:30 p.m. to 9 p.m.
The family set up a YouCaring page to remember the fire victims.
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