Family loses all in mobile home fire
A local family of eight lost everything in a fire that completely destroyed their mobile home at 761 Jim West Road in northern Morgan County on Tuesday, October 16.
Frank and Janet Watson, their five children and Janet Watson's sister lived in the home. The family also lost their pet dog, a ferret and a turtle in the blaze. No one was home at the time of the fire.
A mail carrier called the house fire in to the Morgan County 911 center at 2:23 p.m., said Dave Michael, Office of Emergency Services Director in a press release.
Area firefighters found the residence totally engulfed in flames when they arrived on the scene, said Michael. The home was a total loss. The structure fire also began a brush fire on an adjacent one-acre lot, he said.
Units from Berkeley Springs, Great Cacapon, South Morgan, Hedgesville, Hancock, Orleans, Clear Spring and Needmore Volunteer Fire Departments responded to the fire.
The Morgan County Rescue Service, the Office of Emergency Services and American Red Cross assistance coordinators also responded. Firefighters were still on the scene at 5 p.m. that evening, according to Michael.
Berkeley Springs Volunteer Fire Department Chief J.J. Steiner said that a Hancock volunteer firefighter was having chest pains and was taken to War Memorial Hospital. The firefighter was treated and released, he said.
The cause of the fire is undetermined. The state fire marshal's office was called and the fire is under investigation, said Chief Steiner.
The brush fire was on the hillside and rocks near the home, he said. Steiner believed the brush fire was under control within an hour.
Family needs help
Vicki Hedrick has been helping to fill emergency needs for the family. The family may have found a trailer to live in on their property. Area transport companies have offered to move it, said Hedrick. A temporary storage shed has been arranged for them to store donations.
Hedrick found the family enough clothes to get through a week. They need personal care items, winter clothes and coats and money, said Hedrick. She said she has gotten a wonderful response from the community with donations of furniture, clothing, household items and money and so many offers from people and businesses.
Hedrick is a friend of the family and also the local Girl Scout troop leader. One of the Watson girls is in her troop.
"Girl Scouts come together in time of need," said Hedrick.
Fundraisers for family
Sherry Faith, another family friend, has been organizing assistance and fundraisers for the family. A bake sale was held at Doris' Deli last Sunday to benefit the family.
A yard sale will be held at the Berkeley Springs High School gymnasium parking lot on Saturday, November 3 from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m., with proceeds going to the Watson family, said Faith. If rained out, a new date will be announced. If anyone has folding tables they can use for the yard sale, call Faith at 304-258-3223.
"Change from the Heart" money collections are being taken up for the family at Widmyer Elementary, Warm Springs Intermediate School, Warm Springs Middle School and Berkeley Springs High School all this week, said Faith. The elementary schools are also collecting food for the family.
Collection jars for the family are all over the community, she said. The outpouring of help from the community has been amazing, said Faith.
Needs septic system put in
Several businesses donated services and time to widen the road to get a trailer up to the Watson's property, she said. Faith asked if any local company would be willing to donate their time to put in a septic system for the trailer.
"That would be a big help. They'll really be struggling with it," she said.
Clothing, other needs
Cindy Jessee was collecting donations of clothing and other items to help the family. Jessee and her family of six lost everything in a house fire right before Christmas last year.
"Friends, family and the community in general were so very helpful and generous and supportive to us during our tragic loss. I would like so much to see this family benefit from that generosity that was shared with us," said Jessee.
Jessee suggested donations of storage totes, duffel bags with pockets, gifts cards from the Food Lion, Wal Mart, K Mart or Sheetz, gasoline gift cards, coolers for food, paper plates and cups, paper towels, plastic ware, scissors, nail clippers, rubber bands, paper and pens, zip lock baggies, baby wipes and hand sanitizer.
The Watson family needs everything now, especially prayer, she said.
Family clothing sizes
The Watson family needs girl's clothing for three daughters ages 12, 11 and seven. Their sizes are size 14, size 14-16 and size 8. The girls' shoe sizes are 9 1/2, 7-7 1/2 and 2 1/2.
They also need boy's clothing size 14 husky and 4T-5 for their two sons who are age 10 and six. Their shoes sizes are 5 1/2-6 wide and 11.
Women's skirts size 14-16, clothing size 14-16 and women's shoe size 9 1/2-10 and size six are also needed.
Men's pants size 40-42, extra-large shirts and shoes size 9 1/2 wide are also needed.
If interested in helping the Watson family, call Hedrick at 304-258-4437 or Faith at 304-258-3223. You can also call Jessee at 304-268-5271 or e-mail her at jessee6@people pc.com.