Family homeless after fire

Published 3:10 am Saturday, January 3, 2009

COURTLAND—Tony Taylor was home alone and sleeping soundly when he was awakened by flames engulfing the Bride Street home where he lives.

“I woke up and I couldn’t see because there was smoke everywhere,” Taylor said.

As he stood by watching firefighters bring the blaze under control Wednesday night, he gripped a cordless phone taken from the house.

“I grabbed the phone and called for help while I was getting out,” he said.

Taylor had been living with his sister, Thelma Taylor, who left the house about 45 minutes before the fire broke out.

“Things just happened so fast,” Thelma Taylor said.

While no one was injured in the fire, the six residents who called the dwelling home were displaced.

“Everything I had was in that house. I don’t know what I’m going to do,” said Tony Taylor, as he was preparing to head to Wal-Mart for supplies on Friday.

Thelma said she visited her home the day after the fire and nothing was able to be salvaged.

“They say the home is a total loss,” she said.

“I don’t know what I’m going to do. I just don’t know,” she said. “If it were just me, I could make it. But, I have my boys to think about.”

Besides her brother, Thelma’s three sons, aged 19, 17 and 15, who all attend Southampton County High School, and an unidentified friend lived with her.

The Southampton County Red Cross has temporarily come to their aid by coordinating shelter in a local hotel and arranging vouchers for a three-day supply of food and clothing.

Phyllis Crum, service delivery coordinator for the Red Cross, said the family was still in need of much more than the agency is able to provide.

“They are going to need a lot of help,” she said.

Crum said the New Year’s Eve fire is just one of several that have highlighted the need for more volunteers to her agency in recent months. She said the Red Cross usually sees an increase of activity during the summer and winters months, but the number of fires has been unusually high lately.

“It’s really been bad this year,” she said. “From May to December, we have responded to over 17 fire calls. We are in desperate need of more help.”

Crum said she realizes not everyone can volunteer their time, but there are plenty of opportunities to donate to the Red Cross.

“All funds donated to our office stay right here to help families in Franklin and Southampton County,” she said.

Contact the local Red Cross Office at (757) 516- 6642 to volunteer or to help the Taylor family and other local families in need.

The cause of the Taylor’s fire has not been released.