EDITOR'S NOTE: After a early morning fire destroyed their Mooreville home Thursday, seventeen members of one family have a place to stay, thanks to the kindness of strangers. WTVA's Mike Russell spent much of the day at the burned-out homem and filed this report.
MOOREVILLE, Miss. (WTVA) - It was the kind of disaster you pray never strikes so close to home -- three rooms engulfed in flames by the time firefighters arrived around 6:45am Thursday -- and when they were gone five hours later, nothing left but charred rubble.
"It was in flames when I come out and saw it....."
Neighbor Tiffany McCullough won't soon forget the fire that destroyed the home of her friends across the street. Fire chief Ron Witte says at least three rooms of the 13-room modified trailer were burning violently when he and his crews arrived at the home. He says it took five hours to fight the blaze that started in the cast iron wood heater in the living room.
"We was just laying in bed," says Hannah Streetmanm who lived in the home, "and they come in hollering that the house was on fire and told us to get out."
Virtually everything in the home was destroyed, including what all the family members had received for Christmas. Nearby, Sister Amanda Holder of the Landmark Pentecostal Church sprang into action, letting everyone on facebook know that the family was homeless -- and needed everything. People dropped by the burned out shell, making donations - and a friend of the church, Kevin Donald, loaned the family a home. Even while Holder was out Friday afternoon, people kept donating. She almost couldn't get in the door of the church when she returned.
"I'll tell you what," she said. "I've never seen a community step in like this - this is wonderful. Everybody has just been showing up with donations and showing God's love."
Her comments were echoed by Jerry Hall, another resident of the home.
"That made me feel wonderful, you know. The people that don't know you, coming out and giving stuff to you. That's from God above right there."
And so despite the nightmare just after christmas, one message comes through loud and clear. People matter more than possessions, and a giving spirit prevails.
There will be a special sunrise prayer service for the family at Landmark Pentecostal Church (2826 Highway 178, Tupelo, Mississippi 38804, 662-871-3419, Facebook.com/landmarkpentecostal) on Sunday at 7am.