In the blink of an eye, William Berkshire lost his home and everything in it after his travel trailer went up in flames outside of Roy's General Store in Traverse City on Sunday night.
Authorities say that a wood-burning stove inside the trailer caused the fire that took everything from Berkshire.
Berkshire attempted to extinguish the fire himself, but was unsuccessful. The fire singed Berkshire's beard in places and caused minor burns to his hands, but he refused medical attention at the scene.
Despite losing his home and most of his possessions to the flames, Berkshire feels fortunate to be alive.
"I've lost everything," said Berkshire. "It's not a good feeling, it's not a good feeling, but at least I'm still sucking air and made it out of it. A lot of people don't."
Berkshire became a little more fortunate on Monday, thanks to the generosity of Rob Hentschel, Roy's manager. Hentschel had a camper that he has barely used and didn't hesitate to give it to Berkshire, knowing that he needed a roof over his head.
"I look at this disaster behind me and that could be any of us, it really could," said Hentschel, referencing the destroyed trailer. "We're all human beings, we're all neighbors. I had something that I could live without, and he needed a place."
Berkshire was blown away by the gesture.
"I'm still in shock," said Berkshire. "They didn't have to do that. A lot of people wouldn't, but they're good people. Very good people. And I appreciate it."
This was not the first act of kindness that Hentschel did for Berkshire. Berkshire, who says that people call him "Mountain Man," typically keeps his trailer in the woods, but after recently coming into town to deal with personal matters, he could not get back to his usual spot because of built-up snow and a low gas tank. He attempted to stay in other parking lots, but was told that he must move. When Hentschel saw the trailer in Roy's parking lot, he approached Berkshire, but not to force him off the property: Hentschel took Berkshire to dinner, talked to him about the situation that he is in, and told him he was welcome on the lot.
Hentschel's generosity has apparently already spread: After hearing about Berkshire's situation, American Waste donated a dumpster for him to use as he cleans up the rubble.