***This campaign is for Derek and Shannon Hinkle***
Friday May 19, 2017. My husband Derek and I live with my parents temporarily after being displaced in Georgia due to my husband's recent disability. Things started out the same as any other day. At 7 am my husband had gotten up to make a milk bottle for the stray kitten we recently acquired. He noticed nothing unusual as he returned to his room. At around 7:30, I got up and went out to our back porch to get something from the spare fridge. I also noticed nothing unusual. I came in, said good morning to my father as he left for work and went back to bed. At around 8:20, I heard my mother shrieking "It's on fire! It's on fire!" I jumped out of bed to see what was going on. She was standing in front of the back door and I could see nothing but a bright flickering orange color thru the window of the door and the neighboring dining room window. These turned out to be huge flames, not a little fire you could simply put out with an extinguisher. I screamed at her to get away from the door and to get out of the house! As she left I then went for my husband. I yelled the house was on fire and to grab the kitten and get out! I stopped in my room to grab my phone and wallet and went to the front door. Flames were coming in thru the living room windows and starting on the drapes and interior walls as the house filled with smoke. Outside I could not find my husband or mother. I began screaming for both of them. I thought maybe they had not gone outside and were still in the house. I went back into the house to look for them.
Things get a little foggy at this point but finally my mom and I were outside, both with bare feet and then I hunted down my husband. He was on the side of the house trying to put out some of the fire with a garden hose. You could now see the flames licking the roof of the house. We had cats and a dog inside. My mom kept trying to go back inside to save them. We had to keep pulling her away from the house. Unfortunately we did lose those beloved pets. My mom tried to call 911 and the dispatcher couldn't seem to understand the address my mom was yelling to her. She was crystal clear but the operator just couldn't understand. This wasted precious time. The local fire department thankfully is only a mile away and saw the smoke and flames and hurried our way, but could've been there sooner had the 911 dispatcher gotten the address correct right away.
As they arrived we heard the hissing and rupturing of a propane tank as the gas escaped into a pillar of flame that reached into the sky. As the firemen unrolled their hoses they yelled for everyone to take cover as the fire had begun to reach my fathers' guns and ammunition that he kept for protection. As we crouched behind trees, cars, and trucks I realized that we escaped the house barely dressed standing barefoot in the the brush.
All I remember after that was the chaos. We stood by, hysterical, crying, confused as our home just burned to the ground. It seemed that the fire fighters just couldn't get it out fast enough. Turns out the fire had gotten underneath the house. And once under there, they couldn't reach it. They put out what was outside but it just burned up from underneath. We were so helpless as we just watched the house, our possessions, and our pets perish in the flames. Soon after an ambulance and sheriff showed up. Reports were made. People started making phone calls to get donations going. People brought food and used clothing over the next several days.
Yes we are alive. But the enormity of losing everything we owned is just overwhelming. My parents, me and my husband will now have to start over from nothing. We all lost things in the fire that we cannot replace: family heirlooms and photos, my grandmother's locket that was given to me when she passed away. Not to mention our poor pets. We have found two of their bodies and had a burial service for them. Hopefully we will find the others. We are just so overwhelmed by what has happened and what we now face. Starting over. It is terrifying. It's surreal...can't even believe it. Even when we go to the still smoking remains and start sifting thru to see if anything can be salvaged, its like this isn't real. This can't be us. This is something you hear on the news about other people. This isn't happening.
This fund me page is being created because we have so much to recover. We are currently staying with friends and family. But of course we want be on our own and not some burden to those who love us. We lost medical equipment, phones, glasses, car keys, wallets, driver's licenses, social security cards, and every piece of clothing that also need to be replaced. We are just exasperated. We are exhausted. Sleep is scant...when we close our eyes all we see are flames. There is so much to do. So many things that have to be taken care of. We have had many people ask us to create a gofundme page so they can help us out of the goodness of their hearts. We are so honored and humbled by the outpouring of assistance and concern from others. We truly do thank each and everyone of you who sends us anything. Thank you for opening up your hearts to us during this tumultuous time.
- Lilette Smith Reaves
- Justin Cadena
- Bennie Wik
- Michael Savage
- Khan Granger