A Hillyard family lost almost everything as neighbors and friends watched flames erupt from their home Friday evening.
The house was a new start for the family after the Faith Baptist Church bought the home last year to house future staff members, but rented it to church member Sarah Morley and her family instead.
The roof collapsed in several places, destroying the bedroom of Sarah Morley’s 17-year-old son, Rudy Rech.
“He’s lost absolutely everything and he knows that,” Morley said. “But he has a very strong walk with the Lord and is handling it very well – it’s part of life.”
First Baptist members left a church dinner to join each other in a neighbor’s front yard for emotional support.
Their pastor couldn’t make it because he was out of town, church deacon Monty Rich said.
“He’s scared to leave sometimes because something like this always happens when he’s gone,” he said.
Fire crews battled the stubborn blaze all night as it ravaged the attic and second floor leaving little untouched for three generations of Morley’s family to recover.
As the smoke settled the next morning, fire crews helped find important documents from the family’s home including passports.
The fire didn’t damage the first floor and basement as much as fire crews initially thought, and neighbors helped recover some clothes, movies, books and baby photos of Rech and his younger brother, Reno Morley, 16.
The boys’ grandmother, who lives with Morley, was the first to report the fire after she saw smoke coming from the attic around 7 p.m. She escaped, but the family is still missing two cats who haven’t been seen since the fire. A firefighter did rescue one cat from the home.
Now Morley’s family is leaning on her church to help out. They’re providing a place for her to stay, Morley said.
“I’m all right now and I know God is in control and he’s going to take care of us – our church is going to take care of us,” Morley said.
The whole church lost something that night, but Rich is thankful everyone got out.
“I’m sorry they’re losing their personal items, but those things can be replaced – people can’t,” Rich said.